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Copyright & Fair Use: Getting Permission

Permission Requests

Information to include in permission request:

  1. Title of the material
  2. Creator/author of the material
  3. Publisher of the material
  4. Description of material
  5. ISBN or ISSN, if applicable
  6. Date of publication, if applicable
  7. Purpose for which you wish to reproduce the item (research, commercial, educational, etc.)
  8. How the material is to be reproduced (e.g., photocopied, digitized)
  9. Where the reproduced material will be used or will appear and for how long

Page Author

Maureen Diana Sasso


Getting Started

When using copyrighted material in your own work, determine whether you need permsision.

Check for rights restrictions—Creative Commons licenses that specify allowable uses are becoming more common, especially for online resources and images.

Generally the author of a work owns the copyright, but there are special considerations for a dissertation.  For example, the dissertation research  may have been carried out in a lab with grant funding obtained by the faculty member advising the dissertation.  Or, chapters within the dissertation may have been accepted or published as journal articles.

If your thesis or dissertation contains material that you have submitted to a publisher, make sure you follow the permission guidelines of the publisher. You may find a blanket  permission for use in a dissertation on the publisher's website.

In some cases your use may qualify as a fair use under the guidelines in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Code. Duquesne provides a fair use checklist you can use to document your fair use analysis.

  • If your use meets the fair use criteria, fill out the checklist  and retain it for your records. Include copies of all checklists with your ETD filing.
  • If your use does not meet the fair use criteria, get permission before using the copyrighted material. Include copies of all permissions with your ETD filing.

 Tips for getting permission

  1. Use a permissions service to save time. Start with the  Copyright Clearance Center. You can often fill out a form online and receive an immediate answer.
  2. Check the publisher website for permissions information.
  3. Be prepared to pay—many copyright holders allow free use for theses and dissertations, but you may have to pay a fee. To keep the cost affordable, describe your intended use carefully and limit your use to only what is needed.
  4. Allow sufficient timeif you need to write directly to the copyright holder you can expect the process to take several weeks at least. Write for  permission as soon as you determine you need it.
  5. Don’t use the material until you receive permission—lack of response from the copyright holder does not give you the right to use the material. Keep documentation of your requests and payments.