Advice on Publishing to the Web


If the work which you are submitting is made available on the Internet, it can legally be regarded as a published work and, as such, is subject to the copyright legislation as it applies to ‘published works’. This may well mean that you will have to gain written permission for the inclusion of some quotations, maps, diagrams, photographs, tables, representations of works of art or text and images copied from internet websites. Details regarding this can be found below.

All sources must be accurately acknowledged, whether permission is required or not.


You do not require permission to reproduce any work which is out of copyright.

  • In the UK and EU, where the author holds copyright, copyright protection last for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. During this period the copyright may lie with the author’s estate or with their heirs

  • Where the publisher holds the copyright, the period of protection runs for 70 years after the year of first publication

  • In the case of US material, the period could be up to 95 years following the author’s death

Ultimately, it is likely that most source material intended for inclusion in theses and dissertations will be subject to copyright legislation and thus the guidance below will apply:

Quotations (Prose)

Without having to seek permission, you may quote up to 800 words in total from a published work of a substantial nature, but no single block of quotation should exceed 400 words. When quoting from a smaller prose work, of say only a few pages, it may be necessary to seek permission. If in doubt about quoting from shorter works you should seek guidance from your tutor or the AU Copyright Manager (see below) as unique circumstances may apply in each case.

Quotations (Poetry)

If the poetry is the subject of your work and it is being reviewed, you may include ‘insubstantial’ amounts. Existing guidance suggests that in works of 160 lines or less, you may include up to a quarter of that work without seeking permission. For longer works of poetry, the maximum you may quote is 40 lines. If the inclusion of the poetry is incidental or used for effect or for descriptive or narrative purposes, then permission has to be sought for any amount of reproduction.

Quotations (Song Lyrics)

Permission has to be sought for any use of song lyrics including even small phrases or a short line from a song.


Copyright is in the layout, format and selection of data for a table. If you add or delete rows or columns or adapt the data in any other way, you must still acknowledge the original source of the material. If the table is unchanged in any way, you must seek permission to reproduce.


Permission must be sought from the copyright holder for the inclusion of any photographs.

Illustrations, drawings, graphic images

Permission must be sought from the copyright holder for the inclusion of any illustrations, paintings, cartoons or other graphic images. If the item is out of copyright (i.e. the creator has been dead for over 70 years) it is still possible that a museum, gallery or library may have existing rights over prints of that work. You will need to investigate this. Bear in mind that in cases where you wish to use a photograph of a work of art, you may have to seek permission from both the artist and the photographer if they are still in copyright.

Film stills, frame grabs

If one or two stills are used from a piece of work and they could be argued as being ‘insubstantial’ in the context of the whole work, this could be considered as ‘fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review’. Full acknowledgement would have to be given and this would necessarily include the name of the film, the name of the producer and the name of the director.


Permission must be sought from the copyright holder for the inclusion of any representation or part-representation of an advertisement. These are NOT covered by ‘fair dealing’ provisions.

Internet material

Copyright applies to all internet material and permission should be sought from the copyright holder for any degree of re-use.

Screen shots, software instruction screens etc.

These are regulated by individual licence provisions. Refer to software itself or to home pages of developer. Microsoft, for instance, have extensive pages on copyright limitations.


Permission must be obtained for the copying of any portion of a music score.


Permission must be obtained for the copying of any map to be included in your work. However, some map producers (including the Ordnance Survey) do not normally charge royalties for the use of maps within academic works subject to certain provisions.


Apart from in the case of tabular data (see above), adaptation is the sole right of the copyright holder, and in all cases permission must be obtained.

You should keep records of your permissions process and particularly of the written permissions themselves. If a significant number of permissions are involved you may benefit from using spreadsheet software to monitor and record the process. A sample permissions request form is attached. It is essential that you describe the intended use of the copyright material, emphasising its use within an educational context, but stressing that it may also be made available on the Web. You should make your department aware of any copyright material for which permission for copying has not been obtained.

In cases where the work is being examined as an essay, thesis or dissertation, failure to secure permission will in no way affect the outcome of your submission.

If you have any further queries relating to copyright, please contact the AU Copyright Manager, Dr Jonathan Davies –

Please click Copyright Permissions Letter to download a model permissions template letter.