Copyright, Publication and Licensing

What is Copyright?

  • Copyright is the legal protection given to authors of various kinds of works and defines the extent of the rights of ownership held by authors.
  • Copyright exists for authors as soon as the work is created in a fixed form. Authors do not need to do anything else for the copyright protection to take effect. It exists whether or not authors declare the copyright, publish the work, or register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

All questions about copyright can be answered by visiting the Mabee Library. In person, ask for Farhad Moshiri, or click on this link: Mabee Library Copyright FAQ.

Also, view this information page from the U.S. Copyright Office:
Copyright in General

and view or download this brochure:
Copyright Basics

This article by Kenneth Crews is a terrific resource for academic writers of any kind:
Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities

Should You Register Your Copyright?

Registering your copyright is optional, but doing so provides an official record of your ownership. This record is valuable in the event of a dispute about your work or any portion of your work. You may register the copyright for your work directly with the U.S. Copyright Office through this link . The cost for registering copyright is available in this brochure, Copyright Office Fees. Dissertation writers have the option of registering their copyright through ProQuest, which adds a handling and processing charge to the registration fee.

Publication, Publication Agreements, and Licensing Your Work

Theses, doctoral projects, and dissertations are published, or "deposited," into The Athenaeum, UIW's Open Access institutional repository of scholarly work. Dissertations must also be deposited into the ProQuest Dissertation Publishing database. Both databases allow students to choose if the work will be made available immediately or will have an embargo for a set period of time. Scroll down the page to read about embargoes.

Publication Agreements and Licensing Your Work

Depositing Work into The Athenaeum. The Athenaeum is an Open Access repository. Open Access means that anyone can read and download your work for free. The publication agreement you sign when you deposit your work gives permission to The Athenaeum to make your work available, describes your rights and responsibilities, and the rights and responsibilities of The Athenaeum. You retain ownership of the copyright. You should consider including a Creative Commons attribution license with your ETD. This license specifies that, although you are allowing free public access to your work, you are defining how the work may be used. There are no fees involved with publishing student work into The Athenaeum.

Depositing Dissertations in the ProQuest Database. ProQuest offers two kinds of publication agreements, which are a) no-fee Traditional Publishing or b) Open Access Publishing, for which the company charges a fee. With either option you retain ownership of the copyright. With Traditional Publishing, ProQuest sells copies of your work, with 10% of the royalties delivered to you after $25 worth of sales. Open Access publishing means that ProQuest places no restrictions on who can access your work--but because ProQuest does not charge for access to your work you pay a fee up-front to defray the cost of publishing.


Open Access Publishing places no restrictions on access to your work, although you may choose to define certain limitations on use of your work through a Creative Commons license. Select a button below to read about Open Access Publishing and using Creative Commons to license your work.

Open Access Information

Go here to read a three-part series on Open Access and dissertation embargoes: 

This article from College and Research Libraries journal presents research on the question of open access and electronic theses and dissertations:

Visit Oasis (Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook) for more information about open access.


The Athenaeum and ProQuest allow students to request an embargo, or delay, on the publication or dissemination of their work. Embargoes can be requested for periods of six months, one year, or two years. Students must submit separate requests for embargoes to The Athenaeum and to ProQuest.

Additional Copyright Resources

Check out the links below for more information on copyright.