Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Help LibGuides

Copyright: For Researchers

This page is under development

Non-Commercial Research and Private Study

In the UK, 'fair dealing' with copyright material for "non-commercial research or private study" does not require the rights-holder's permission. 

"Fair dealing" is not defined in law, but it's generally understood as use of the work in a way that doesn't impact on the rights-holder's economic opportunities.  Making a copy to share privately with other researchers or participants who have no commercial interest in the outcome is likely to be fair.  Sharing that copy with industry partners, an audience who have paid to be present, or a publisher who intends to market the work, may be harder to defend as fair dealing.

Research materials you have accessed overseas will be subject to the copyright law of that jurisdiction, which may be more restrictive.  Seek advice locally.

See also: Archives Referencing and Copyright, from the University of Hull Archives Team.

Writing for Publication

image of a writerEnglish copyright law allows anyone to quote from published material, "for criticism and review or otherwise", providing your use is "fair dealing" and you attribute the quote to the original author.  You may "quote" excerpts from audio and images as well as text.

You do not need the rights-holder's permission for an attributed quote.  There is no need to identify the copyright status or rights-holder in your bibliography or in-text citation

If the source of your quote is unpublished, e.g. a private letter or student assignment, you should not use it in work for publication without the creator's permission.

There's no limit to the length of your quote, although you should be able to justify why you needed to reproduce the amount that you chose in order to make your point.  It's arguably not "fair dealing" to rely on the Quotation defence when re-using material which could have a market value in its own right, such as a poem, artwork or high-res photo (see the Using Images tab).

Your publisher may set an arbitrary word limit for any quotes, beyond which they will expect you to obtain permission from the rights-holder.  This is not a legal requirement, but an indication that your publisher is risk-averse.

image of an artistReproducing other people's figures, illustrations or photographs in work for publication requires care, as the copyright status may not be clearcut.  

An image found on a free-to-view website is not necessarily free to re-use,  and a figure taken from a book or journal article may have a different rights-holder from the surrounding text.  A gallery or museum can claim copyright over its own digital reproductions of works by long-dead artists. Check your source for any terms of use, or a licence statement such as Creative Commons.

Ensure that you credit the rights-holder in your image caption (the Creative Commons wiki has a useful guide to captioning CC images). 

If the image you have chosen to use does not have a CC licence, or you cannot meet the licence terms, you may need to contact the rights-holder for permission to reproduce their material  - look for a request form or email address on the host platform.

Recommended sources of images which are free to re-use for non-commercial purposes:

undefinedIf your use of other people's material can't be defended as 'Quotation', you should try to get permission from the copyright owner.  Be prepared to negotiate a fee, and/or accept their terms and conditions.

Instructions from Oxford University Press (useful for any author):

Advice from University of Leeds about how to find and contact a copyright owner:

If the copyright holder can't be traced, the material is defined as an 'orphan work'.  The UK's Intellectual Property Office has developed a process for applying for a licence to copy an orphan work:

When you sign your agreement to publish,  your publisher may ask you to transfer copyright to them, to enable them to market your work and protect it from unlicensed reproduction.

Some research funders provide authors with a 'rights retention' statement to append to an agreement to publish, enabling the author to prevent the publisher from limiting access to the work (by paywalling it or claiming an exclusive licence to distribute it).  Check the terms of your funding agreement - this will take precedence over any contract with the publisher.

For more information about authors' rights and obligations to publish their work with an open licence,  see the Library's guide to Open Access.


Conferences and Networking

to follow

to follow

Your thesis

Copyright in a University of Hull PhD thesis belongs to the author, unless a prior arrangement has been made with a funder or sponsor.  (University of Hull Student Contract 2018-19, #7.2).

Before graduation, the successful PhD candidate is required to deposit a digital copy of their examined thesis (including any corrections) in Hydra, the University's open repository for research.  The British Library harvests theses from Hydra for Ethos,  a searchable collection of over half a million theses from UK participating institutions.

The author may choose to withhold their thesis from public view (an 'embargo') for up to five years, if, for instance, it contains commercially sensitive information, or potential for adaption into a book or journal article(s).  Be mindful that research funders (such as the UK's Research Councils) may set a limit on thesis embargo duration, in order to increase the audience for funded work - check the terms of your funding award.

Because your thesis will be available to read on the open web in due course, you should not incorporate other people's copyright material without the rights-holder's permission,  unless you have a legal basis for doing so, such as Quotation (see opposite).
The University of Leeds guide to Getting Permission has some helpful hints and tips, including template text for a request letter.


If your thesis incorporates material written by you which has been published already (for instance, a journal article), be mindful that your publisher may own the copyright.  Check the terms of your Agreement to Publish, and contact your publisher for permission to republish the material if required.  If permission is not granted, you can choose to embargo the material concerned, by depositing it as a separate file.

University of Hull students can find further information about submitting and depositing their thesis on the Doctoral College Sharepoint site.

Copying from theses and dissertations

Other people's theses and dissertations may be available from their university library in print or digital form.  Digital copies of many UK PhD theses can be obtained through the British Library's EThOS service.

If you have obtained a thesis or dissertation from a library or publisher's collection, then photocopying, printing or scanning a "reasonable amount" for "private study", "non-commercial research", "education" or "quotation" is permitted under UK copyright law.  Your copy must be fully attributed. 

If you have made a private arrangement with an author to read their thesis, or an academic department or faculty has made former students' work available to current students, then you should consider the work "unpublished".  Copying extracts from this work for anything other than "private study" infringes the author's copyright.

Intellectual Property

Copyright is one form of Intellectual Property.  Hull researchers interested in opportunities to commercialise their IP or share it with external partners should contact the University's IP and Commercialisation team.