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Fair Use, Copyright, Patent, and Publishing Options

  1. Is information that you plan to include from others considered “fair use” and are you acknowledging these sources correctly?
  2. Embargo of online copies (dissertations only)
  3. Has a patent application been filed (or will one be) on the basis of your thesis or dissertation research?
  4. Register for copyright?
  5. Supplementary materials
  6. Make your work discoverable on search engines?
  7. Make your work accessible to people with visual disabilities

1. Is information that you plan to include from others considered “fair use” and are you acknowledging these sources correctly?

You are responsible for acknowledging any facts, ideas, or materials of others that you include in your work. You must follow the guidelines for acknowledging the work of others in the “Code of Academic Integrity and Acknowledging the Work of Others” (published in the Policy Notebook for the Cornell Community).

If you use any copyrighted material in the dissertation or thesis, it is your responsibility to give full credit to the author and publisher of work quoted. The acknowledgment should be placed in a footnote at the bottom of the first page of the paper or chapter. Additionally, you must determine whether use of the material can be classified as a “fair use” by performing an analysis of your use of each copyrighted item. The Cornell Copyright Information Center’s Fair Use Checklist) is a helpful tool for performing this analysis. (See also, Copyright Law and the Doctoral Dissertation: Guidelines to Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities , published by ProQuest, or The Chicago Manual of Style, published by the University of Chicago Press.)

If your use of material is not considered a “fair use,” you must obtain written permission from the copyright owner. Two copies of each permission letter must be submitted with the dissertation or thesis.ProQuest has specific requirements for the content of the permission letter. For these guidelines, consult theProQuest Doctoral Dissertation Agreement form (published byProQuest), available at www.gradschool.cornell.edu/thesis.

If you have already published or had accepted for publication part of your own dissertation or thesis material in a journal, depending on the terms of your publication agreement, it may be necessary to write to that journal and obtain written authorization to use the material in your dissertation.


2. Embargo of online copies (dissertations only)

The value of your dissertation extends well beyond your graduation requirements. It’s important that you make an informed decision about providing online access, via ProQuest and eCommons, to your work. This decision can expand the visibility and impact of your work, but it can also shape the options available to you for publishing subsequent works based on your dissertation.

ProQuest’s ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT) database indexes almost all dissertations published in the U.S. and provides subscription access online to the full text of more recent dissertations. ProQuest also sells print copies of dissertations, paying royalties to authors, when they exceed a minimum threshold. Authors retain copyright in the works they submit to ProQuest.

eCommons is a service of the Cornell University Library that provides long-term, online access to Cornell-related content of enduring value. Electronic theses and dissertations deposited in eCommons, unless subject to embargo, are freely accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. When submitting to eCommons, you retain copyright in your work. PhD dissertations submitted to ProQuest are automatically submitted to eCommons, subject to the same embargo you select for ProQuest.

Electronic copies of dissertations in PQDT or eCommons may be made accessible immediately upon submission or after an embargo period of six months, one year, or two years. You may wish to consider an embargo period which helps address publishers’ interests in being the first to publish scholarly books or articles, while also ensuring that scholarship is accessible to the general public within a reasonable period of time. Your decision should be made in consultation with your Special Committee.


3. Has a patent application been filed (or will one be) on the basis of your thesis or dissertation research?

Cornell University Policy 1.5 governs inventions and related property rights. Inventions made by faculty, staff, and students must be disclosed to the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL). Theses and dissertations describing patentable research should be withheld from publication, in order to avoid premature public disclosure.

Use the delayed release (embargo) option if a patent application is or will be in process, noting the reason for the delay as “patent pending.” If you have any questions, please contact Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing at (607) 254-4698 or ctl-connect@cornell.edu.


4. Register for copyright?

Copyright law involves many complex issues that are relevant to you as a graduate student, both in protecting your own work and in referencing the work of others. Discussion of copyright in this publication is not meant to substitute for the legal advice of qualified attorneys. A more detailed discussion of copyright law can be found in the publication from ProQuest entitled Copyright Law and the Doctoral Dissertation: Guidelines to Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities by Kenneth D. Crews.

Copyright protection automatically exists from the time the work is created in fixed form, and the copyright immediately becomes the property of the author. Registration with the United States Copyright Office is not required to secure copyright; rather it is a legal formality to place on public record the basic facts of a particular copyright. Although not a condition of copyright protection itself, registering the copyright is ordinarily necessary before any infringement suits can be filed in court.

To register a copyright for your dissertation or thesis, register online or download printable forms. You may also request forms by mail from the Information Section, U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559, or contact them by telephone at 202-707-3000.

Doctoral candidates: You may authorize ProQuest to file, on your behalf, an application for copyright registration. This option will be presented to you as part of the submission process. The fee for this is $55. 


5. Supplementary materials

If supplementary materials (audio, video, datasets, etc., up to 2GB per file) are part of your thesis or dissertation, you may submit them as supplementary files during the on-line submission process. For help selecting long-lived file formats, note ProQuest’s guidance in their document, “Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission (Including Supplemental Files).” File formats for which ProQuest does not guarantee migration may still have a high likelihood of preservation in Cornell’s digital repository; please see the eCommons help page for further guidance.

Do not embed media files in the PDF version of your thesis or dissertation, as this can significantly increase the size of the file and make it difficult to download and access. Include a description of each supplementary file in the abstract of your thesis or dissertation. You may include an additional supplementary file containing more detailed information about the supplementary materials as a “readme” file or other form of documentation; this is particularly advisable for data sets or code. The Research Data Management Service Group (rdmsg-help@cornell.edu) offers assistance in preparing and documenting data sets for online distribution.


6. Make your work discoverable on search engines?

ProQuest offers authors the option of making their graduate work discoverable through major search engines including Yahoo, Google, Google Scholar, and Google Books. If you chose the Search Engine option on their dissertation “paper” publishing agreement or within ProQuest’s PROQUEST ETD Administrator (electronic submission service), you can expect to have your work appear in the major search engines.

If you change your mind and do not want your work to be made available through search engines, you can contact customer service at disspub@proquest.com or 800.521.0600 ext. 77020. In addition, if you did not initially adopt this option but now want your works made available through this service, contact the customer service group to change your selection.

Please note that search engines index content in eCommons, regardless of the choice you make for ProQuest.


7. Make your work accessible to people with visual disabilities

When creating a PDF version of your thesis or dissertation it is important to keep in mind that readers may use assistive technology such as screen readers to access your document.  Follow best practices to ensure that your thesis or dissertation is accessible to everyone.  These resources may be helpful: