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Copyright and Fair Use

This guide provides resources and information about copyright and fair use.

Copyright for Graduate Students

For Illinois State University master's and doctorate degree students, you will encounter copyright while completing your thesis or dissertation. You will do so as the author of your own original work, and potentially by using copyrighted material in the creation of your work.  

Author's Rights 

As the author of a thesis or dissertation, you own the copyright to your work. Under copyright law, a creator of an “original work” created in a “fixed tangible medium” is immediately and automatically the copyright owner of the work, and your work is protected.  

You do not need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office because it is automatically protected. However, if you decided you did want to register your work, you could do so. Visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s registration site for more information on how to register and what the potential benefits of doing so may be. You could also request that ProQuest file with the U.S. Copyright Office on your behalf when depositing your final, approved thesis/dissertation, for a fee.  

Using Copyrighted Material in Your Thesis/Dissertation 

If you are using copyright material in your thesis/dissertation, it is your responsibility to follow all applicable copyright laws. This can include asking permission from the copyright holder, relying on fair use, or using openly licensed content with applicable attribution.  

On your Thesis/Dissertation Proposal Approval Form, there is a Copyright Checklist section to be completed. View the copyright checklist page of this guide for more information.

Graduate School Resources


For questions about using copyrighted material in your thesis/dissertation and completing your copyright checklist, contact the Copyright Librarian.

Copyright Librarian

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Colby Cilento
Milner Library

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