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GW students, faculty, and staff now have free, full online access to The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Learn more and access the digital subscriptions.


Students submitting theses/dissertations should be aware of copyright and fair use considerations. Understanding Copyright and Fair Use will help reduce your concerns.

Copyright is a protection provided to authors of originals works in the United States. Copyright arises automatically when an original work is fixed in a tangible form of expression. In general, tangible forms include literary works, musical works, including any accompanying words, dramatic works, including any accompanying music, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.

Poetry, prose, computer programming, artwork, musical notation, recorded music and/or song, animations, video footage, Java applets, a Web page, architectural drawings, and photographs are all copyrightable expressions. However, facts, exact duplications of public domain works, ideas, systems, works created by employees of the Federal Government, titles and short phrases, logos and slogans, and forms that only collect information do not qualify as copyrightable.

The author generally owns copyright. Copyright gives authors/owners of copyrighted work the exclusive right to reproduce the work, to make derivative works, to distribute copies of the work, to perform the work, to display the work, and for sound recordings to perform the work publicly. However, in some cases in which an employee has done the work for the employer ("work for hire"), the employer owns the work.  Please see the following for more information:

Fair Use

Library Scholarly Communications: includes information on Copyright, Fair Use, Author's Rights and Impact of Research

Use of Your Previously Published Works in a Dissertation or Thesis 

Copyright Registration

GW Copyright Policy: links to GW's Policy page including statements GW Copyright Policy

Additional Resources

ETDplus Virtual Workshop: Copyright (Educopia Institute, Kathleen Skinner)

Copyright Guidance Brief (Educopia Institute)

Questions about Copyright?

You may make an appointment with Barrett Matthews (Gelman Library Compliance Officer, Copyright & Scholarly Communications​)


Have any feedback? Complete this form.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations Administrator: Gelman Library.2130.H.Street.NW.Washington.DC.20052.etds@gwu.edu
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