Answered By: Monique Ritchie
Last Updated: 09 Jun, 2020     Views: 351

You may not need permission or a licence to use third party copyright images just to conduct your thesis research, write up your results or submit your thesis for examination, as these are activities which are generally covered under statutory exceptions to copyright in the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988.

However, if your thesis will be further reproduced, you may need to obtain permission to reproduce third party images, such as illustrations, figures or photographs within it.

While you are conducting your research and writing up, you are likely to be covered by fair dealing provisions in the CDPA 1988 for non-commercial research purposes (Section 29). Quotation, criticism and review, which are vital elements in any scholarly work, are also allowed under the provisions in Section 30. Supervisors and examiners are also covered by an exception for instruction (Section 32), which addresses preparing for and assessing work produced for examinations provided the use is illustrative and fair dealing. 

Every use should be considered case by case to assess whether the exception criteria are met. You should always consider whether your use is insubstantial and whether it would harm the copyright owner's interests. Where an image has been used for aesthetic purposes rather than contextually as part of the research, then it is likely that the exceptions will not cover the use and that permission or a licence will be needed. 

Doctoral theses are archived in Brunel's institutional repository, BURA, and in the UK national thesis collection, EThOS, in the British Library under University and national policy. It is widely held that third party content in archived doctoral theses is covered by statutory exceptions in most cases, but that permission is needed for publication and reuse. Scholarly publication of the third party content in a journal article or book is likely to require rights clearance for reproduction, for which the copyright owner may charge a fee. This is because publishing is a commercial activity while most exceptions to copyright are limited to non-commercial purposes only. 

For further information about copyright and theses, see the links below.