Skip to Main Content

Copyright for Students


Profile Photo
Sam Cheng
FAAD & Copyright Education

Theses & Capstone Projects

Your Copyright

Under Sheridan's IP Policy, students own copyright to their work unless the material is created for:

  • A student job or work study at the college
  • A research or capstone project with an agreement with a third-party (e.g., an industry partner) indicating different copyright ownership. Refer to this tutorial called IP for Sheridan Students who are participating in research.  

Students who are co-authors on a project share copyright ownership unless there is an agreement stating otherwise. 

Using Copyrighted Materials

When you may use someone else's material: 

Texts, tables, diagrams, images and questionnaires are copyright protected, unless indicated otherwise. Citing a source is necessary for academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism but you still need to check that it is copyright compliant for you to copy the material. You may use someone else's work in your own thesis or capstone project if: 

  • You are quoting or paraphrasing a few sentences or a short paragraph. You may also summarize a work to support your own idea or argument.
  • The material is in the public domain. Copyright of a work generally expires 70 years after the passing of the creator.
  • The material is under an open licence (e.g., Creative Commons) that permits your use. Refer to the Finding Images Guide for public domain and Creative Commons licensed images.  
  • Your use falls under fair dealing. Note that under fair dealing, you can copy an article to use in an assignment to share with your instructor and peers in your class but you likely need to obtain permission if you want to publish your assignment with the copyrighted article. 

Be sure to cite the sources you are using. Visit the Citation Guide for information on APA, MLA and other citation styles. 

There are three types of copyright free or friendly images:

  1. Public domain: In Canada, copyright of a work expires 70 years after the death of the creator. A public domain work can be freely copied and used.
  2. Creative Commons (CC) licensed: The creator of a work has waived some rights so the work can be freely copied and used. Attribution is generally required. Other additional restrictions such as non-commercial uses, no derivatives, and share-alike may apply.  
  3. Free with no or some restrictions: Similar to Creative Commons, the creator of a work has waived all or some of the rights so it can be freely copied and used. There may be additional conditions such as non-commercial uses. 

It is important to pay attention to the type and conditions of use on an image that you want to use: 

When you need to obtain permission or use an alternative: 

If your use does not fall under any of the conditions mentioned earlier, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner to use a work. 

If you want to use images to decorate your work, you should use public domain or Creative Commons licensed images. Most materials including images on the Internet are copyright protected, not free to copy and use.  Permission is usually necessary if you are including a full article that has been published elsewhere unless it is under a Creative Commons licence or another open licence that allows your use.  

Please refer to the section on Requesting Permission for more information. 

Publishing Your Thesis or Capstone Project

Publishing in a journal: 

You may be interested in submitting your thesis to a journal for publication. Talk to your professor and do some research on reputable journals in your field. There are predatory journals that contact authors directly and target students who are graduating; these companies ask for a publishing fee and market their journals as prestigious publications to attract authors who want to build their careers, without doing the promised quality checks. In these cases, the quality of your thesis is compromised because it can be included alongside scholarship of poor quality. Refer to the Open Access Publishing Guide for more information about evaluating a journal. 

Publishing in SOURCE: 

Students can publish their thesis or capstone project in SOURCE, Sheridan's institutional repository. SOURCE is a great option for students to publish their work in a Sheridan resource and increase the reach of their work with a wider audience. Students can also add the SOURCE link to their publication in their CV.

SOURCE does not curate student work. The faculty (who assigned the work) is responsible for sponsoring, assessing, and contributing student work to SOURCE.

Note that students are individually responsible for copyright compliance when they publish their work in SOURCE. Feel free to email Sam Cheng, Open Education and Copyright Librarian, at if you have a copyright question related to your thesis or capstone project.