Copyright in a thesis

In most cases students retain copyright in their research and thesis, unless it is an externally sponsored work or there is some other agreement. A thesis which is made available online through the La Trobe University Research Repository (LTURR) will be available to the public, including the world-wide research and scholarly community.

La Trobe University will be granted a non-exclusive license to publish a thesis online in the repository by the student. The license granted to La Trobe University is not an assignment of copyright. It is permission granted by the student, the copyright owner of the thesis, to the University to copy the student's thesis and make it available online.

Any person who wants to publish a paper using data or content from this thesis will need to seek permission or obtain a license from the student (copyright owner of thesis).

Students are free to publish their thesis (in whole or in part) with any publisher (e.g. in a journal or as a book). The University will cease to provide open access to the full-text thesis online when requested by the publisher or candidate/author. In this case, the student needs to request the withdrawal of their thesis by contacting Graduate Research Services (GRS).

Unless, under certain circumstances, i.e. confidentiality, a student does not want to make their thesis available for a period of time, the University retains the right to supply a thesis, whether published or unpublished, in whole or in part, to other researchers requesting the thesis for their own personal research or study, in accordance with Section 51 of the Copyright Act.

La Trobe University provides access to the digital copy of the theses UNLESS the author requests the University to restrict access. Requests for restrictions must be approved by the DVC Graduate Research who will determine the duration of restricted access.

Students intending to publish their thesis (this includes making it available in the LTURR) need to ensure that permission is obtained in writing from the copyright owner(s), for any copyright content that is not owned by the student and that is included within the final version of the thesis.

Students must also ensure that the content being used is not copyright infringing content (unauthorized content from the Internet or pirated material).

Permissions from copyright owners to use their work may include a fee, a commercial or non-commercial licence (including an open access license like creative commons or GNU-GPL software licenses) for the materials that are included within the thesis. Students will need to meet the requirements of the licenses or permission and abide by any limitations or restrictions imposed by the license or permission.

Any content that has not been created by the student will require permission and includes:

  • Any type of published or unpublished text, including archival records, collections of unpublished materials such as letters, diaries or manuscripts; books, articles, posters, websites, digital documents; software code; tables containing text; collections or samples of data; surveys, questionnaires or interview scripts; screenplays, plays, poems, song lyrics.
  • Any type of visual content including images, maps, figures, diagrams, flow-charts, tables, photographs, film stills, cartoons, engravings, graphs, graphic designs, logos, artworks.
  • Any type of audio-visual content which is then displayed and/or transcribed into the thesis including computer games, DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs, films, video, animation, records, tapes, programs recorded from TV and radio, vodcasts, podcasts

Adaptations and transcriptions of other people's copyright content

Permission is also required when other people's copyright content is adapted for use within the thesis, such as translations or a dramatised version of a literary work, a translation or 'non-dramatic' version of a dramatic work, or an arrangement or transcription of a musical work.

Any transcriptions made by the student from other people's copyright audio-visual content, whether published or unpublished, will require permission from the original creator, copyright-owner, producer or broadcaster depending on where the audio-visual recording came from.

Transcripts made from broadcast materials such as

  • TV or radio programs
  • commercially produced DVDs or CDs
  • webcasts or podcasts
  • unpublished materials such as recordings of languages, interviews, songs, stories, wildlife, etc. held in a library or archival collection or other organisation will require written permission from the copyright owner.

If you have used content that has a licence from the copyright owner which allows you to publish or make an adaptation of their work for non-commercial (e.g. Creative Commons licensed content, GNU-GPL software or other 'open content' or licensed materials) you will need to ensure that you follow the license conditions.

Copyright permissions

You should obtain all permissions in writing for any material included in your thesis which you did not create and ensure these are kept. You may be asked to supply copies to the University.

If permissions are not obtained then two versions of your thesis must be submitted: a redacted version which will be made publicly available; and a completed version which will be stored in line with University obligations.

Any request for permission should include all information about how the work will be used, where or how it will be published (i.e., in hard-copy volume, in an electronic journal, on the University's open access repository website, etc.) and by whom (i.e., by La Trobe University or by another organisation or publishing enterprise).

Assistance and advice about permissions and the use of copyright works can be obtained directly by contacting David Janssen, University Copyright Advisor.

Moral rights of the creators and performers of copyright material including cinematographic films

Authors, creators, performers, directors, producers, and screenwriters have the right to be attributed for authorship or performership. Each copied work must be attributed correctly in order to avoid false attribution, this includes attribution to an unauthorised work, and the author, creator or performer must be identified in a reasonable way as they want to be identified unless the author, creator or performer(s) do not want to be identified.

An author may also object to a derogatory alteration of the work like distortion, display a work in an inappropriate setting etc., or any treatment which may affect the author's honour and reputation.

Appropriate and accurate acknowledgement of other people's works referred to or reproduced in a thesis must be made and care must be taken when altering someone else's work taking into account the potential impact on the author's reputation.