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Submitting your thesis to ORA: Third party copyright

Third party copyright in thesis

What is third party copyright?

Third party copyright refers to copyright works created by someone other than yourself.  Examples include text, images and graphs.


  • Does your thesis include works created by someone else?
  • Do you know if those works are protected by copyright?
  • Do you know if the legal exception for criticism or review applies to your use of those works?
  • If a legal exception to use the work of others in your thesis does not apply, have you obtained permission to use those works from the copyright owner?
  • If you have obtained permission, have you sent electronic copies of those permissions to ORA?
  • If the legal exception does not apply and you have not obtained permission, have you created and submitted both a full version and a redacted version of your thesis?
  • Have you correctly acknowledged the rights holder?

You should undertake your research and prepare your thesis understanding that both a hard copy and an electronic copy will be archived and made available by the University’s Bodleian Libraries. Priority should always be given to preparing a thesis for examination, but steps can be taken during the preparation of a thesis that will make it easier to deposit in ORA.  The information set out in this guidance only applies to a thesis deposited in ORA: it does not apply to the commercial publication of a thesis, nor does it apply to any personal use made of a thesis.

Some of the issues you need to think about when including third party copyright works in a thesis are:

  • when a work is a relevant copyright work;
  • when you can rely on a legal exception to copyright infringement;
  • when you should seek the written permission of the copyright owner to reproduce a copyright work; and
  • when you may have to provide a redacted version of your thesis for deposit in ORA (i.e. remove the relevant copyright work).

Please see the Third Party Copyright in theses guidance note (in the box to the left) for further information


These instructions refer to material such as photographs, movie stills, other types of images, material available on the Internet, maps, extracts of musical scores, significant extracts of works (eg whole poems), commercial equipment plans and designs and so on. Acknowledgements are additional to the usual referencing that you include in your work when you cite other authors.

After permission has been granted, when including material where copyright belongs to a third party in your thesis or other works that are disseminated, you will need to:

  1. Check if the rights holder requires specific wording for the acknowledgement. If yes, you should follow it exactly. If the required text is long, it could be included as a footnote if the permission instructions allow.
  2. Sometimes material will have had a license such as a Creative Commons licence applied by the creator of the work. You should make sure you comply with the terms of the licence and include the licence with your reproduction of the material if appropriate. For example the CC-BY licence instructions says “for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.” 
  3. The acknowledgement (or licence details or link) should be placed clearly next to the material to which it relates.
  4. Retain evidence of the permission(s). If submitting your work to ORA, include the permission(s) along with the submitted file(s) when you deposit your work.
  5. If you have built on someone else’s work such as adapting a diagram, you should clearly state this and acknowledge the original creator.
  6. The hard-bound copy and the digital copy of your thesis should match. Both should include acknowledgements.

Guidance notes

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Permission request templates

Permissions record

Oxford University Research Archive






ORA (Oxford University Research Archive) is the institutional repository for the University of Oxford and is home to the scholarly output of its research members. 

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