For Current Clarkson Students

Why am I being asked to fill out a Copyright License? 

Clarkson University would eventually like to digitize Clarkson students’ master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations and add them to a digital repository.

This form will allow us to include a digital copy of your work in a Digital Repository should one be created. 


For more guidance on filling out the student copyright form, click here.


Clarkson University library staff cannot offer legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding this Copyright License form please contact an attorney. 

Frequently Asked Questions – Copyright License

As discussed above, this is intended to give Clarkson University the right to make copies, digitize (or otherwise convert) your work, and make your work available to the public in a digital repository.

This is also known as the Copyright Act, and it sets out copyright law and copyright protections in the United States. You can view the text of the law here.

If you use materials, such as graphics or images, created by other authors in your work they may be covered by their own set of copyright protections. This section is intended to ensure that you have gotten permission to use copyrighted works where necessary. 

This is entirely up to you, and depends on your individual circumstances. You may wish to speak to your advisor or mentor regarding which option(s) is the most appropriate to your specific circumstances. 

The first option, “paper duplication for purposes of library catalog and lending,” grants Clarkson University the right to create printed, bound copies of the work and distribute them for library purposes, such as circulation. 

The second option, “conversion to digital or later-developed medium,” grants Clarkson University the right to convert your thesis or dissertation into a digital format, or any format to be developed in the future. 

The third option, “duplication and distribution of a converted copy: Clarkson Community,” would allow Clarkson University to distribute the copy(s) made under option two to the Clarkson Community only, including students, employees, trustees and community members with library cards. 

The fourth option, “duplication and distribution of Converted Copy: World-wide,” would allow Clarkson University to distribute the copy(s) made under option two to anyone world-wide, without geographic limitations. 

The last option, “full license of all rights,” grants Clarkson University a full transferable and irrevocable license to your work, including the right to publish, distribute, prepare derivative works, engage in performances related to your work, and display your work. 

This allows the Clarkson University Libraries to include basic information about your thesis or dissertation in the library’s online catalog and databases. Including this information in the catalog and databases will make sure that library users can find your work. 

 According to Rutgers University, here are some guidelines on how to handle copyright if you have previously published part of your thesis: 

  • “If copyright in the prior work is held by a publisher:
    • For published prior works, the student should read the publication agreement he or she (or a co-author) signed with the publisher to confirm whether copyright was assigned to the publisher through an exclusive transfer of rights or if the student or co-author signed an agreement that the work was a “work made for hire”. In both cases this means that the publisher holds copyright.
    • If so, the student should read the agreement to confirm whether it permits the student to use all or part of the prior work in future publications (to “re-publish” the work, to “re-use” the work), including in theses and dissertations, and whether any conditions apply. ·
    • If the publication agreement permits such use, no further action is needed on the part of the student.
    • If the publication agreement prohibits such use, or if the publication agreement is silent on this issue, the student should contact the publisher to obtain permission for re-publication of the prior work in a thesis or dissertation.
    • If the student is unable to locate the publication agreement, he or she should contact the publisher to obtain a copy. 
    • The student should understand that in transferring the copyright to the publisher in exchange for publication, he or she may have given up the right to use the work in part or in whole without the permission of the publisher. Most publishers are agreeable, but because they hold the copyright, it may be necessary to obtain their permission.
  • If copyright in the prior work was retained by the author:
    • If the student retained copyright in the prior work but granted certain rights to a publisher through a non-exclusive license in exchange for publication, the student should read the terms of the publication agreement and comply with its conditions.
    • In such situations, generally the student would be free to use the work in a thesis or dissertation without permission of the publisher.
  • If the prior published work was co-authored:
    • Co-authors of prior works must be acknowledged in the thesis or dissertation. If copyright in the prior work was transferred to a publisher, no action needs to be taken with co-authors with respect to copyright.
    • If the co-authors retained copyright, the student should be mindful of whether there was an agreement among them as to the ownership of separate and independent sections of the work as a collective work. For example, if the graduate student created parts 1, 2, and 3 and a co-author created parts 4, 5, and 6 of the prior work as distinctly separate works, permission should be obtained from the co-author if the student intends to use parts 4, 5, and 6 in the thesis or dissertation. If, on the other hand, the prior work consisted of inseparable parts of a unitary whole, this is generally not necessary.”

For more information, see Rutgers guide.

Pre-Prints and Copyright:

Another important consideration with regard to whether you can re-publish an article as part of your thesis is whether or not it is the final, published version or a pre-print. 

As explained by Columbia University, pre-prints are “preliminary versions of scientific manuscripts that researchers share by posting to online platforms known as preprint servers before peer-review and publication in an academic journal. Preprint servers are publicly available online archives that host preprints and their associated data.”

Many publishers allow you to share or otherwise re-use the pre-print version of a paper. As suggested above by Rutgers, check your agreement with the publisher. 

An embargo allows you to grant these rights to Clarkson University, but with a delay. In other words, an embargo grants rights to Clarkson University to place your work in a digital repository at a later date of your choice. Select this option if you want to delay having your work available to the public, and indicate the date at which you would like your materials available to the public. 

Frequently Asked Questions - Image Release

As stated on the form, this portion of the license allows Clarkson University to use your name and likeness (such as your face, voice, or social media presence) to promote your work. 

You can find the text of this law here. As stated above, if you have questions about this law, we encourage you to consult an attorney. 

For more help, please contact us at