Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright: Using Copyrighted Material

Copyright procedures & guidelines at University of Pretoria, Department of Library Services.

Using Copyrighted Material


  • Most online content is protected by Copyright
  • Always assume that online content is protected - unless you know otherwise
  • If you use unauthorised content, don’t be surprised if you get an email or takedown notice from the rights owner (source:
  • If you are including any Copyright material in research reports, theses or dissertations which will be placed on an institutional repository, e.g. UPSpace, then you will need to clear Copyright for all those Copyright items, before submitting for examination. 
  • If using a Creative Commons licence or other open source licence, always apply the conditions of the licence
  • If using others' photographs, videos, films, images, etc. online, remember to get permission - also consider privacy issues before uploading them.
  • If using free material, make sure it is free (sometimes it picks up the word 'free' in a search, or it was free and is no longer free).
  • Check the Copyright conditions on the webpage (usually on the homepage) - there is usually a link to 'Copyright' or 'terms of use' or 'conditions of use'

When in doubt, rather ask for permission, especially if your work will be made available on the Web via a website, blog, e-book, e-journal, institutional repository or ETD database, etc.

It is the responsibility of the researcher/student to apply for Copyright clearance for Copyright material included in a thesis or dissertation.

N.B. Copyright clearance can take a long time and even cost money, therefore it is important that applications are done in time to avoid delays.

Acknowledgement is given to the University of the Witwatersrand, Scholarly Communications & Copyright Services Office, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2013.