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Can you use an image in a dissertation and what do you need to consider when publishing? The Copyright Information Site provides information on this and can answer any questions you may have.

What you need to know

Copyright applies to documents, images, films, music and other scientific or artistic works. The creator doesn’t have to do anything to obtain copyright, as they receive it automatically.

Copyright allows the creator to decide how, where and when their work is published and reproduced. Copyright remains in force until 70 years after the death of the creator. Or, if the creator is a legal entity, until 70 years after the first publication of the work. On the death of the creator, copyright passes to their heirs. Copyright over a work can be transferred, such as to a publisher.

Using other people’s work

If you want to use work that is protected by copyright, you must ask permission from the copyright owner. There are two exceptions to this rule: First, you can make a copy of the work without the creator’s permission. This private copy may not be shared or distributed among other researchers. You cannot make a private copy of software unless the creator explicitly agrees to this.

Second, you can also quote from or paraphrase other people’s work without permission in academic papers. A quotation means to include a short extract from someone else’s work, word for word. When you paraphrase, you must accurately reflect the intent of the other person’s work. In addition, the quotation or paraphrase must support the content of your work and you must not use more than you need. These conditions apply to texts and to PowerPoints, videos or materials used to explain your research.

Reusing other people’s work

Reuse means, among other things, sharing and disseminating other people’s work unaltered. Sometimes you can reuse the work without permission. This applies, of course, to works whose copyright has expired and to more recent works that have been published under a Creative Commons (CC) licence. With a CC licence, the creator forgoes certain rights. In that case, non-commercial reuse, including sharing with other students, is permitted. There are a number of different licences: Explanation of Creative Commons licences.

Research organisations are allowed to reproduce copyrighted material that they have legal access to if the purpose is text and data mining. The reproduction must be stored at a suitable security level and may be saved for academic research purposes.
Anyone conducting text and data mining must have legal access to the work in question. In addition, the related copyright holders may not have expressly reserved the copyright in a suitable manner, for example by using machine-readable data in the event of a work made available online.

Acknowledging your sources

When using or reusing other people’s work, you must always acknowledge your sources. Proper acknowledgement of sources ensures that these works can be traced. How you cite your sources will depend on your field or the medium in which you wish to publish. Citation software automates the referencing of sources in a specific style. The UvA supports a number of different citation managers: Citing and Acknowledging Sources.

Your own work

The copyright on research results conducted by researchers and PhD students employed by the UvA and publications resulting therefrom is vested in UvA, unless the UvA has explicitly transferred the copyright in writing to the researchers and PhD students concerned or to a third party such as a publisher. In the case of a doctoral thesis, the copyright lies with the doctoral researcher, unless the copyright in previously published sections has been transferred to a publisher. UvA doctoral theses are stored and published in the Digital academic repository (UvA-DARE). When copyright is transferred, it may be necessary to place sections under embargo in UvA-DARE, see: Publishing a doctoral thesis.

If the publication contains images that you have produced yourself that depict a recognisable person, the person in the image can claim portrait rights. As the creator, you have copyright over the image, but you cannot publish it if the person depicted in it objects to it. Ideally, you should have the person or persons depicted in the image sign a declaration of consent before you publish the image. Images >> Portrait rights.

The UvA’s preference is for publication via Open Access, which makes publicly funded research available to all, see: Open Access Publishing. When you publish data this way, a licence makes it clear what other researchers can do with it. Make sure the licence is clearly visible on the web page where your data can be downloaded, see Research Data Management.

If you work with a publisher, you don’t have to transfer the copyright in full. You can, for example, license the right of use only. If you transfer all the rights or the exclusive right of use, the publisher’s permission must be obtained for dissemination (e.g. on your own website) or for reuse (e.g. in a bundle with other publications). You can find more information on this in the SURF article Employer and publisher agreements. The Wet Auteurscontractenrecht(copyright contract law) deals with the position of authors in relation to publishers.