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Copyright: The essentials

This guide provides answers to the most frequently asked questions with regard to copyright in Canada as well as the copyright compliance at McGill University and beyond.

General information

Generally, authors must seek permissions if they reproduce in their work (article, book, McGill thesis, etc.) third-party content: graphs, charts, figures, images, etc. that is under copyright protection.

In case if the third-party work was released as open access under a Creative Commons licence, its content can be reused as long as the terms of the licence are followed.

Seeking permissions

Obtaining Permissions to use Materials from Published Journal Articles
  1. Locate the article on the journal’s website (rather than in a database or a third-party website like PubMed). The easiest way to do this is often by searching for the DOI (the 10-digit identifier often included in a citation or bibliography) on Resolve a DOI Name.
  2. Locate the permission link. Somewhere close to the title of article, there should be a link to request permissions. This usually uses language like: get permissions, get rights and content, copyright request.

  1. The vast majority of journal publishers use the Copyright Clearance Center for granting permissions. Otherwise, they might outline the terms of use on their website. In most cases, link will lead to the online form from the Copyright Clearance Center (see screenshot below). The first time you use this form, you will need to create an account. After you create the account, you will be taken back to the form. At this stage, you will need to select your desired use (reuse in an article, thesis/dissertation) from the dropdown menu.

  1. Provide specific information on the material (number of figures, etc.) and your work (final number of pages, title of the thesis, etc.).
  2. In most cases, the publisher will grant a licence for the material to be used in a thesis use free of charge, while you might need to pay a fee for its reuse in an article. It is advisable to retain a screenshot of the permission and an email confirmation for your records.
Obtaining Permissions to use Materials from Books

To obtain permissions to reproduce materials (images, photos, plans, charts, etc.) published in a book, in most cases, publishers have to be contacted directly (via email).

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