Below are the most frequently asked questions about including an image or other copyright-protected materials in a thesis. If you have additional questions, please contact the Copyright Coordinator at or 306-966-8817.

Do I need copyright permission to put an image (e.g., photo, maps, diagram, figure) in my thesis?

Up until the time that your thesis is added to the eCommons@USASK electronic thesis collection, it is considered a private research paper and images can be used without permission as long as they are properly cited and adhere to the university’s Fair Dealing Guidelines. However, once your thesis is distributed through the eCommons, permission from the copyright holders of any images or figures used in your thesis is required.  

How do I determine who the copyright holder is, and how do I go about getting permission from them?

The University of British Columbia's copyright website includes useful information for grad students about how to identify copyright holders and where to go to request copyright permission. The earlier that you can start the permission request process, the better, as copyright holders can be difficult to find or get a hold of and sometimes they take a long time to respond.  

What if I’m not granted copyright permission in time, or the copyright fee being charged is too expensive?

If permission is not granted in time for you to submit your thesis to the eCommons (or if the copyright holder is asking for a fee that you decide not to pay), the image(s) for which clearance/permission was not received must be removed from your thesis before it is submitted to the eCommons. In the space where the image was removed, you would then add a statement indicating that the image was removed due to copyright restrictions and include an image description and full citation where the image can be found. Here is an example statement: “Figure 3 has been removed due to copyright restrictions. It was a diagram of the apparatus used in performing the experiment, showing the changes made by the investigating team. Original source: Wu, G. and Thompson, J.R. (2008) Effect of Ketone Bodies on Dairy Cattle. Biochem J. 255:139-144.” (This example citation was retrieved from The University of British Columbia’s copyright website, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Are there any types of images for which I don’t need to acquire copyright permission to include them in my thesis?

Copyright permission would not be required for including the following types of images in your thesis:

  1. An image for which you are the only copyright owner
    (e.g., an image that you created alone and for which you have not transferred copyright to a publisher or anyone else)
  2. Images that are in the public domain (i.e., are no longer protected by copyright). Please note that “public domain” does not mean that anything publically available on the internet can be used without copyright permission. Most works on the internet are protected by copyright and would require permission for being included in a thesis.
  3. Images that have Creative Commons copyright licenses
  4. Some Canadian federal government materials (e.g., materials protected by Crown copyright)

What about copying text into my thesis? Do I need permission for including quotes in my thesis?

With regard to copying text into your thesis, permission should be acquired for use of long quotations or excerpts. A short quote that you would include in the body of your text would not require copyright permission, and a block quotation would not necessarily require permission. There is no exact word count that is the maximum amount of text that could be used before permission is required. It would would be advisable to err on the side of caution and seek permission for long quotations. If you are unsure about what constitutes a long quotation, you can consult with your thesis advisor and the College of Graduate Studies. Your citation style guidelines (e.g., APA, MLA, etc.) may include helpful information on this as well. 

Based on information from the University of Manitoba copyright website and the University of British Columbia copyright website.

Note: The information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice, but is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes.

Creative Commons License
All information found on the University of Saskatchewan Copyright website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License unless otherwise noted.