Copyright and Publishing

Reproducing material that was produced by persons other than the thesis author may violate the law of copyright, whether or not you have cited it. You are personally responsible for ensuring that your thesis complies with Canadian copyright law, and the cIRcle license requires that you confirm that you have done so.

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies cannot offer legal advice as to whether or not copyright permission is required.

What is Copyright?

Please see Copyright at UBC for detailed information, particularly the section on Theses and Dissertations.

Copyright law protects original, literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works in a variety of forms, including written materials, computer software, and web-based formats.

Copyright protection applies regardless of whether the work in question is published (such as a book or an annual report) or not (such as an internal company memo), and whether someone has made it available to the public (such as on a website) or not. This protection expires 50 years after the death of the originator, regardless of who holds copyright at that time.

Public domain

A work that is freely available to the public is not necessarily in the public domain.

For a work to be in the public domain, the originator must have specifically waived copyright to the work, or copyright must have legally expired.

Work that is in the public domain can be used by anyone without copyright being violated.

Fair dealing

You may be allowed to use copyrighted material in your thesis provided it falls under the Canadian Copyright Act's definition of "fair dealing". Please see What is Fair Dealing and can I use it for my Thesis? on the Copyright UBC website for information. If you are in any doubt, you must obtain permission.

Note: It is good academic practice to cite sources, but such citing does not remove the obligation to obtain formal permission to use copyrighted material.


Indigenous traditional knowledge may not be copyrighted in the legal sense, but nevertheless ownership of such knowledge must be recognized. If you are working with Indigenous knowledge, the UBC Library provides guidance on citing elders and knowledge keepers. See Indigenous Librarianship on the UBC Library website.

Creative Commons Licence

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative or exception to copyright; they are one way for copyright owners to distribute their work within the copyright framework. When you submit the final version of your thesis you will be asked some questions to determine the appropriate Creative Commons licence. Please see the links below for information:

Creative Commons website

Offers to publish your thesis

You should be aware that students who have graduated may be contacted by publishing companies that have an interest in publishing their thesis. These companies often contact authors directly. You are free to grant permission, but you should research the company first to ensure that it is a reputable academic publisher.

Sources of Copyright Information

The most important source for copyright information is the Copyright at UBC website, particularly the section on Theses and Dissertations. Information on the Copyright at UBC website is kept up to date by the UBC Copyright Advisory Group.

For more information about Canadian copyright requirements and Creative Commons licences, see: