Authors must conform with the copyright rule of “fair use” when quoting materials or using graphics copyrighted by others. Generally, this means that in cases where permission is not obtained, “use” of the material is “fair” to the copyright holder. Such items as quotations and photo reproductions should not be so numerous or lengthy as to diminish the value of the work being cited. On the other hand, “fair use” is also a right that the author is entitled to exercise.
Because the rule of “fair use” is not precisely defined, it is advisable to request the copyright owner's written permission for any quotation or quotations of 150 words or more. If more than three items from other media (e.g. art reproductions, photographs, maps or tables) are drawn from a single copyright holder, written permission must be obtained. Whatever the medium, permission letters must accompany the final dissertation deposit. In the permission letter, the holder of the copyright should give the author of the dissertation permission to use the copyrighted material and give ProQuest Information and Learning permission to film and sell the material on which it holds a copyright.
If diligent efforts to obtain copyright permission letters prove unsuccessful, the author may request ProQuest to delete the material in question before filming. Please note that ProQuest cannot delete illustrations interspersed throughout the text. Therefore, such illustrations should be placed together at the back of the dissertation. These pages must be numbered consecutively with the previous text pages. To request the deletion of copyrighted material, address a letter to ProQuest and send it to the Dissertation Officer with the rest of the deposit materials. In the letter, which the Dissertation Officer will forward to ProQuest, explain the copyright problem in writing and ask that ProQuest delete the material; identify explicitly what is to be deleted.
If the author is unsure whether or not to ask permission or unsure how to proceed generally in these copyright matters, he or she should call Ms. Jerrie Gray at ProQuest (1-800-521-0600, extension 2139.) There is also a very clear discussion of copyright issues in the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style and Guide 5 in the ProQuest “Publishing your Dissertation” booklet, which offers sample letters and other useful information.
Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office is a valuable resource regarding all questions related to copyright.
In some disciplines, most commonly in the sciences, previously published material authored by the dissertation writer may be included in the dissertation. This is usually in the form of a journal article with the journal holding the copyright. Many journals routinely allow inclusion of these articles in dissertations and do not insist on a permission request. If the author is using pre-published articles (or other material) this issue should be clarified with the journal or copyright holder prior to deposit.