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Ask Slashdot: Best Copyright Terms For a Thesis?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the try-the-must-pay-my-loan-license dept.

Education 211

plopez gets in his first Slashdot submission with this question, writing: "I am wrapping up an MS. In the past I have had problems getting copies of others' work, due to lack of copyright notices on their thesis or dissertation. I don't want that happen to me. I know the joke is 'No one will ever read your thesis,' but in the slim chance it is useful to others I don't want them to be required to hunt me down for a release. Basically I want to say: 'Copyright is released as long as this work or excerpts is properly attributed. Also, any published excerpts cannot be copyrighted by other parties, nor can the original work in its entirety.' Is this good enough? I don't want to encumber legitimate uses of the work but I also don't want some pirate coming along and stealing it out of public domain. Is public domain good enough? Or does it allow the work to be restricted by commercial interests? I know of copyleft, but copyleft is a family of copyright notices and I am unsure which one is right for my intent. Please help."

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211 comments

Creative commons! (5, Informative)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498132)

Creative commons has a tool to help, and human readable licenses. I'd guess you can find what you need there. http://creativecommons.org/ [creativecommons.org]

Re:Creative commons! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498162)

danah boyd did this:
http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2009/02/18/licensing_your.html

Re:Creative commons! (2, Informative)

paulschreiber (113681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498168)

Re:Creative commons! (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498436)

I did this for my PhD (in 2009) too and my school (University of Minnesota) didn't blink over the copyright being CC at all. I also agree with Danah that you should try to make it as available as possible. Even with a CC license it's important that people be able to find it so they can use it. Luckily in my field there is a clearinghouse (ERIC) which will host theses, papers, and articles and distribute them indefinitely. I also allowed the University Archives to post it online. Interestingly, ProQuest later submitted the copy I sent to them to the same database (of course they didn't submit the full text, just a reference link to there site where you can buy it).

Your institution and department don't have any claim to your work (unless they are directly paying for it, but even so giving up the rights to it would be rather unusual) and should not be telling you how you can and cannot copyright it. Worst case you just re-release it after the fact with whatever license you want. Academia is the last place that closed licenses belong!

If you're interested you can see what I did at: http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=ED505597 [ed.gov]

Re:Creative commons! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498490)

Your institution and department don't have any claim to your work (unless they are directly paying for it, but even so giving up the rights to it would be rather unusual)

The institution might argue that it is paying for its students' work not with dollars but with course credit. No copyright assignment, and it's graded incomplete.

Re:Creative commons! (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498518)

That would not fly in the US. I do believe that in some countries universities may have copyright claim on student work but this is simply not the case in the US unless there is a contract and funding making it a work for hire or copyright assignment. I am not aware of any US schools which have such requirements and I study and practice in the field of education.

Re:Creative commons! (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498638)

The university I studied at in the UK did not claim copyright on my dissertation, but it would be a breach of university regulations if I were to publish it, which could, in the extreme, lead to my degree being revoked. I could, of course, publish a rewritten version containing the same information.

Re:Creative commons! (1)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498982)

I would be interested to know on what grounds they justify that regulation. It being in the UK, I would guess it is a publicly-funded institution, right?

Re:Creative commons! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498628)

They might argue that, but if you're paying tuition, then they can't make that claim. They're giving the credits in exchange for payment provided the work is completed satisfactorily. There might be a plausible claim if the college is picking up the tab and providing the credits for free.

Re:Creative commons! (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499206)

In most of the world such an institution would be risking their accreditation. Coercive contracts are a no-no.

Re:Creative commons! (5, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498170)

And what he's probably looking for is CC BY-ND [creativecommons.org] . "This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you."

Re:Creative commons! (3, Insightful)

melikamp (631205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498644)

Darn, my mod points just expired :) This is pretty much exactly what the OP asked for. Although, OP said "I also don't want some pirate coming along and stealing it out of public domain", so may be CC BY-SA [creativecommons.org] is more up to the task. It all depends on whether derivative works that go beyond verbatim quotation are desirable.

ND ? you're on crack. (2, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498962)

Please do not *ever* recommend ND for anything of this nature again.

Think about it -- research builds upon other research. That's the whole point of publishing research.

We *want* people to build on the work. ND *specifically* tells people 'you're not allowed to do *anything* with my research'. SA's another messy one, as it sets a restriction on derivatives.

The best thing authors should do is to make sure that they don't lose their rights to the document, so that they can re-distribute the paper, no matter what stupidity the journal publishers do. And for that, see Creative Common's Scholar's Copyright Project:
        http://sciencecommons.org/projects/publishing/ [sciencecommons.org]

Re:ND ? you're on crack. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499218)

can you explain why ND is bad? As far as I can tell, it just means that you can't make a derivative of the work itself. In research, you're not supposed to change someone else's research into your own; you're supposed to build on it: i.e., take the idea in it, then write your own story of that idea. ND allows for it, because it applies to the exact text of the dissertation, not the idea behind it.

Then again, IANAL, and I would love to get some input from someone with more understanding of these terms.

Re:Creative commons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498986)

Creative Commons! Absolutely!!

You did check with your department first, right? (5, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498140)

Because no matter what your intentions are, I would highly advise against jeopardizing the progress of your MS just because you want to use copyright terms that your department doesn't agree with. If you haven't already, I would very highly recommend you check with them first to see how they manage the copyright of theses that are written there. Depending on the institution you may even need to go higher than that to find the official policy and find out if it has any flexibility.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (-1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498160)

The submitter would be better off preparing his Resume for McDonald's instead.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498370)

You don't need a resume for that. Idiot. You must work at one of the lesser brands.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (-1, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498846)

One of the lesser brands of the military industrial complex, I'll admit, but the fact that I'm a cheap and hard-working slob with no degree is the reason why I have a job.

Degrees are overrated anyway. There are the grunts with the tribal knowledge and experience who actually get shit done, and then there are the civilian equivalents of second-lieutenants who start with 40-50K a year to walk around with a clipboard and play World of Warcraft all day long*. The latter escape the axe justifying their salaries with meaningless charts and graphs while the troops are laid off. Then the executives scratch their heads wondering why the hell their stock is dropping ( "We laid off 5 expensive veteran techs and hired 10 more even more expensive and redundant middle-managers - so why are we losing so much money? ).

People with degrees are smarter in the sense that the majority of Slashdot readership is supposed to be smarter - they can slave their way through the drudgery of calculus 5 and differential geometry, but they still can't tie their own shoes or use an apostrophe properly.

* True story.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498474)

This. When I wrote my thesis (for my bachelor's in CompSci), my Thesis department basically said "this is a work for hire, we own the rights to it, you can share it personally for academic pursuits" or something along those lines.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498510)

Work for hire? Who pays whom when a thesis is written? I always thought it was the student paying (indirectly through tuition) the professor. How can this be a work for hire?

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498570)

The thesis program at my campus is a joint progress between the campus thesis department and the internship the student undertakes. Every senior's thesis is about a real-world project that they develop and implement at the company they intern with; some theses have saved companies millions of dollars or increased the efficiency in processes by two or three times. Because of this, they are often seen as "works for hire"; the company is given the option up-front to make the thesis "protected" (not their term, but I forget the actual phrase) which means it's not viewable by the public (the college maintains a small library with all past theses).

"Work for hire" might be the wrong terminology, but there were copyright issues at work when I went through my thesis.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498622)

What school did you go to? I need to make sure to recommend no one ever attend it.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (3)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498698)

So basically your shit got stolen by corporate thugs who held your education for ransom?

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498772)

Not quite. The copyright doesn't differ to them entirely, even if it's a protected thesis, but you are also limited in how you can distribute it yourself, even if it's public.

But for your thesis to be accepted by the college, it has to first be approved by the corporation; there are methods to get around this in case there's a falling out or the company otherwise drops out of the internship program, but I hear they're hard and time-consuming. So, yeah, the corporation can hold your education for ransom if you get a dick boss.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499120)

And if you don't like that situation, the solution is to not sign up for the internship in the first place.

Re:You did check with your department first, right (0)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498970)

Yeah, I agree. Placing an embargo (thanks to the poster below for the term) on someone's thesis is one step too far. Yeah, the thesis demonstrates the student's ability to research and so on - but, it's also some marginal increase in knowledge. Knowledge is supposed to be free flowing in academia. Benefit all humanity and all that...

Re:You did check with your department first, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498760)

"embargo" is the term of art for withholding the thesis, usually these are set to expire after there is no longer some commercial value to protect (sometimes the thesis will turn into a book, or it will disclose some trade secrets).

In the large state owned higher education corporation where I work copyright is owned by the student, but patent and trade secret issues could also be involved.

I would use CC-BY-Attribution in OPs case. I can't imagine why the graduate division or the department would care (unless they are marketing the material in the works as some sort of publication or reports?)

Re:You did check with your department first, right (2)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498912)

my Thesis department basically said "this is a work for hire, we own the rights to it, you can share it personally for academic pursuits" or something along those lines.

That's such bullshit. If the institution paid you to write a thesis, then it would be a work for hire, but actually YOU pay the INSTITUTION to LET you write a thesis for them. How the hell can they claim copyright over it?

Re:You did check with your department first, right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498786)

He may also want to check stuff he signed when signing up for the program. He may have already assigned the rights to the school.

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498146)

Do what everybody else does and put the PDF on your website. Anyone who Googles for it will find it and download it. No one will care about anything copyright related because you can't make a derivative work of a thesis anyway. It works for everyone else in academia; I assume it'll work for you.

Say WHAT? (2)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498374)

you can't make a derivative work of a thesis anyway

Derivatives from published, previous work is one of the foundations of educational research. You shouldn't copy the work, or duplicate it whole and call it your own (although I've seen this...), but almost all research, institutional and commercial, was based on previous work. "The reason I can see so far is because I stand on the shoulders of giants". But...if you're saying that you can't take a "chunk" of someone's thesis, call it your own, and publish it as your own work (thesis), I agree; that's plagorism.

Re:Say WHAT? (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498522)

That doesn't make any sense to me. Copyright protects the expression of the work, the text of the thesis itself, but not the ideas in it. People will take the ideas in the thesis and build off of them, but no-one should be copying and pasting large chunks of someone else's thesis, even if they are rewording it. Besides, anyone who builds off of his work will only contain a brief summary and citation in their writing, as they will spend the bulk of their writing talking about their improvements, and that length should be considered fair use anyway.

Re:Say WHAT? (3, Insightful)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498788)

With Google around, plagiarists would have to be idiots to try it at this point.

What I want to do when I read a paper is learn something I can use to make my code better, or to learn that the problem is way harder than I thought and I need to find a workaround. The problem these days is actually being able to read papers without being affiliated with a university, because so many papers are behind publisher paywalls or trapped on internal-only university servers. Someone having to pay what a textbook costs to read a ten year old paper is probably not what the author had in mind when they wrote it.

Please whatever copyright you use, post the paper online so bright but indigent students can read it.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498452)

I'm doing my thesis work, all I did was sign a document saying the institution has the right to publish the thesis online and that the university library can keep a copy (which can be checked out if you so wish). As far as I know, nothing more is required and I don't see why I would need anything more. If I want to I should be able to publish it on my website as well without problems, I've certainly seen others do so.

Put it on a preprint server (1)

hweimer (709734) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498640)

Better yet, put it on a preprint server such as the arXiv [arxiv.org] . That way, you also get a Linus-style backup of your thesis for free.

University Owns It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498152)

Most universities own the copyright to anything you produce while attending, including your thesis. I'd check the terms with your university.

Re:University Owns It (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498338)

Most universities own the copyright to anything you produce while attending, including your thesis. I'd check the terms with your university.

This. And universities take that very seriously, since it can mean lots of money to them down the road.

A few years back our department received a 7-figure settlement that, at the base of it, was driven by the department's ownership of a former grad student's thesis research.

Re:University Owns It (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498448)

We're starting to close in on the Division by Zero.

Why are you paying them six figures to own your 140 page thesis?

Just make up a distracting thesis that has "academic" merit, swear by its defense to get your degree, then unleash your real degree in the real world when you graduate.

Let's bust the EDU bubble.

Re:University Owns It (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498454)

What country and field is this in? If they are sponsoring the research...maybe. In my experience though it is exactly the opposite. Unless you sign a contract making something a work for hire I am aware of no legislation in the US which would give the university any rights to your work at all (other than fair use of course).

All you have to do is say it's copyright... (1, Insightful)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498158)

...by you and state the year you wrote it. Also, use the copyright sign and the phrase all rights reserved. Then this, "Copyright is released as long as this work or excerpts is properly attributed. Also, any published excerpts cannot be copyrighted by other parties, nor can the original work in its entirety," is assumed.

Re:All you have to do is say it's copyright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498444)

You don't even have to do that, though the name and year are good for establishing who the author is and when it was created. Since you're putting that down for copyright purposes, you may as well prefix it with "Copyright", but it's not required. You haven't needed to say "All Rights Reserved" since 1886.

Re:All you have to do is say it's copyright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498812)

What he wants is not a "copyright notice" (as he wrongly said, which is what you describe), but a "copyright license", which grants certain of those rights he reserved to anyone else, subject to their compliance with his terms (such as attribution).

Your suggestion is off-the-wall, since "all rights reserved" (which you don't really need anymore -- it's implied under law practically everywhere, thanks to the Berne Convention) is exactly the opposite of "copyright is released ...". Note "reserved" (to the author) vs. "released" (to others) -- I'm not even sure how you could think they accomplish the same goal. Then again, I'm not sure how this plopez character could confuse "copyright notice" with "copyright license", so this whole damn mess stinks.

You don't own it (2)

Dan B. (20610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498174)

It doesn't matter what you want to put on your thesis, you university owns the copyrights to it.

I'd suggest you contact your Uni and put the same question to them, rather than 6 million /. Subscribers.

Re:You don't own it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498232)

It doesn't matter what you want to put on your thesis, you university owns the copyrights to it.

This is not true at all universities. It certainly wasn't true for my thesis.

Re:You don't own it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498282)

I know at CMU that anything a student does or creates (projects, papers, programs, thesis) is the student's IP. So yeah, he could hold the copyright to his thesis, as he should.

Re:You don't own it (1)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498276)

This is not necessarily true. At mine, we simply have to submit a form that grants them permission to keep a copy for their archives. I'm free to do what I will with my work beyond that.

Re:You don't own it (4, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498368)

It doesn't matter what you want to put on your thesis, you university owns the copyrights to it.

I don't think that's even true for half the universities. I'd be surprised if it was true for 1/3 or 1/4.

I've seen thesis manuscripts with and without copyright language and none of them has ever been held up or given any trouble from the institution. And I've been on PhD panels for several universities, public and private. Had scores of grad students get their degree without this ever becoming an issue.

I remember a university head librarian who wanted to make an issue out of this and he was practically laughed out of the meeting. And this at a top-five US school.

All of this changes with faculty research and other publications, of course. Then it matters, big time.

Re:You don't own it (1)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498382)

It doesn't matter what you want to put on your thesis, you university owns the copyrights to it.

I'd suggest you contact your Uni and put the same question to them, rather than 6 million /. Subscribers.

At my university, if your research is not funded by the school, you own the copyright to any works you produce. If you are funded, the school does claim copyright on anything you produce.

Re:You don't own it (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498408)

How does that work? I could kinda see it if you use their equipment, but many theses are pure products of the mind. A PhD student pays tuition, so it's not work for hire, and the student is certainly the main author. What claim could a university have over a thesis?

Re:You don't own it (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498486)

This. We had to sign the university copyright notice before submitting the thesis. It had three levels: no library access, access from on-site, free access (although this applied only to the electronic version, the print version was expected not to go into circulation of any kind).

Re:You don't own it (1, Troll)

517714 (762276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498742)

No, you were TOLD you had to sign it. If you chose not to they would have no ability compel you to do so unless they had informed you of this requirement before you entered into their program. Imposing such a requirement after you had invested your time and tuition would constitute a unilateral change to the existing contract between you and the university.

You should own it (1)

Grampa John (1817948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498642)

At Minnesota, where I teach, and where I did my Masters and Ph.D. theses, students and faculty own copyright to their original work, including scholarly work (papers, theses, etc.) and original course materials. See http://policy.umn.edu/Policies/Research/COPYRIGHT.html [umn.edu] for details. My understanding is that this arrangement is extremely common in the U.S. I am a strong advocate of open source and creative commons, but in this case I would encourage you to simply copyright your thesis. That does not mean others cannot use it, it just means that they must attribute the work to you, and cannot claim it as their own.

Re:You don't own it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498652)

Not. True.

In fact, I got into that very same argument with a professor and promptly burned my bridge with him. And the dean of the college. And then campus legal.

Guess who won--give you a hint--it wasn't them.

And for their courtesy of giving me shit over it, they all got sent to training after I registered it and threatened to initiate proceedings for statutory damages when parts of it were forwarded onward and reused in violation of fair use.

Mind you, I /would/ have just given them permission had they asked, but when a professor claimed a thesis was his property... well... I'm not gonna stand for that shit.

Sometimes, it's worth it to fuck everybody over and remember you're hated. Especially people like you that claim the university owns it.

Remember, there's some people that know their rights, are willing to burn the bridges. And sometimes...just sometimes, they have the cash, or the time...to collect.

In my case, I was willing to cost people hundreds of hours of lost time between training and appeals.

TROLL IN MEATSPACE.

Don't fuck with *MY* property.

Don't Use Public Domain (2)

monk (1958) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498176)

You lose all control over the material and some ugly things can happen.

The Creative Commons licenses give you excellent control and they have a helpful tool on the website to pick the license you want [creativecommons.org] . And attribution is required in the license which will handle your citation requirement.

There are others including the GNU free documentation license is a bit more specialized, but CC should be plenty for your needs and most importantly has a community of users and attorneys backing it up. You can probably get quite a bit of help if you ever need to defend it.

Re:Don't Use Public Domain (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498242)

Is there even much law around putting things in the public domain?

I mean, a statement repudiating interest in a work is going to work against any claims of damage, but is it well established that a grant to the public domain actually works?

Re:Don't Use Public Domain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498472)

Re:Don't Use Public Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498560)

The link doesn't answer his question, fucktard.

It is controversial, however, whether it is possible for a copyright holder to truly abandon the copyright of their work. Robert A. Baron argues in his essay "Making the Public Domain Public" that "because the public domain is not a legally sanctioned entity," a statement disclaiming a copyright or "granting" a work into the public domain has no legal effect whatsoever, and that the owner still retains all rights to the work not otherwise released. The owner would then have the legal right to prosecute people who use the work under the impression that it was in the public domain. It is certainly true that under some jurisdictions, it is impossible to release moral rights.

Re:Don't Use Public Domain (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498754)

Meanwhile, for those of us who aren't into trying to control information, the public domain is where the beautiful things happen.

Have a look though the CC licences? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498202)

Some of need are vague and slightly contradictory when i read them.
Have a look at the Attribution-NonCommercial one that xkcd uses but that might interfere with journal publishing.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/ [creativecommons.org]

What to do you mean pirates if a pirate can access the file and they don't care about the copyright then it does not matter what license you use.

check with your university (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498250)

At my university (management in Canada so YMMV), theses are published by the library and copyright is owned by the school. But other universities can have access to it through shared databases/works as most of the stuff from journals. Beyond that, well nobody really will ever know about my thesis, if I wanted to, I'd have to publish it in a journal as an article and then they'd have copyright over it.

So make sure you check with your university first, they most likely have policies regarding this, especially if they publish your work (even if it's just sitting at the school's library)

it's not yours to give! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498256)

You can't control the copyright. Your work belongs to the university, it's not fully yours. You need to cover this issue with your institute.

Submit to a conference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498260)

Just make a paper or a note out of it and send it to a relevant scientific conference or journal. Anybody wanting to use/cite your work will much appreciate that (much shorter) and peer-reviewed version. Also it would make your supervisor very happy.

wha? (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498286)

"In the past I have had problems getting copies of others' work, due to lack of copyright notices on their thesis or dissertation."

Uhhh...huh? Theses are academic sources. The university library where the thesis was finished will have a copy. Lack of copyright notice does not mean you can't use the work as long as you don't simply reproduce it and sell it. I really don't understand what is being asked here.

Re:wha? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498402)

But going to the library makes his head hurt! Shit what is it with this younger generation? It's called RESEARCH and it's SUPPOSED to be hard. Not everything is on wikipedia.

Give yourself extra time, OR do post-hoc (2)

cretog8 (144589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498340)

At my university, I own the copyright by default, but when I tried to either do it public domain OR creative commons, the office which handles such things flipped out. They weren't angry or anything, they just didn't get it. It came down to doing things the usual way OR being late submitting and so not graduating. So, I have a typical copyright on my thesis.

However, now that I think about it (and you could do the same thing), since it's my copyright, there's nothing to stop me (or you) from re-publishing with a Creative Commons license after-the-fact. Hmmm....

Since (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498384)

You have shown that you have such difficulty thinking for yourself I am sure that the content of your thesis will not be adding much to your area of study anyway and probably won't be worth reading. Just who the fuck do you think you are? Isaac Newton? No one will care about your bullshit idea and if your idea was so good, then you would keep it to yourself until you're out of school and can fully control it.

Copyright vs a license (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498394)

IANAL, but I think you are confused a bit between copyright and your license to use the work and patents for the ideas...

Your thesis is essentially "automagically" copyrighted the date that you write it (at least in the US). You may gain additional protections by asserting your copyright (via a simple notice asserting copyright), or registering the copyright (with the government). At a minimum, usually people incluse a copyright to clarify ownership. Typically, you own the copyright to your thesis (unless for some reason it can considered a work-for-hire say about some work sponsored by some company like if they paid your tuition or gave you money for research).

If you do own it, you can do whatever you want to license it. You can publish your terms for a license as to what sort of copyrights you are asserting as part of your document, but it isn't actually required (or necessarily binding either athough it can be used as evidence of an implied license). However, if you don't really own it, asserting ownership and including an implied license might get you in trouble (say if the real owner didn't like your giving any rights away with your included license and the infringer simply said that she relied on your statement, you might be on the hook for some damages).

Normally, it would be just enough to say that you have a copyright on it and be done with it. People can still reference it via fair-use and the actual ideas in your thesis may or may-not be patentable (since the US is now a first-to-file country, you are probably screwed in case someone wanted to steal yur ideas) copyright simply doesn't matter in these cases. As a general rule, you can't release your work to the public domain "with-a-catch". If it's public-domain, it's public-domain. If you care about someone stealing it out of the public domain, you really have to assert a copyright on it and keep it (or donate the copyright to someone you trust to keep it).

There is, however, a small technicality that you probably need to have answered first. How would someone stumble upon your thesis? Is it *published* somewhere? or is it just on your own personal website (essentially self-published). If it is published somewhere, the publisher may want to assert some copyright on that (unless is is just a university publication which sometimes doesn't care). For example, if you put a paper in an IEEE journal, the IEEE will want copyright assigned to them (so they can sell the journal) as a condition of publishing your paper. If this is the case, you actually don't have much of a choice in the matter.

Re:Copyright vs a license (0)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498502)

Your thesis is essentially "automagically" copyrighted the date that you write it (at least in the US). You may gain additional protections by asserting your copyright (via a simple notice asserting copyright), or registering the copyright (with the government). At a minimum, usually people incluse a copyright to clarify ownership. Typically, you own the copyright to your thesis (unless for some reason it can considered a work-for-hire say about some work sponsored by some company like if they paid your tuition or gave you money for research).

And it's basically meaningless if anyone steals your work, republishes it, and you don't have the money to fight them in court when you want to sue them.

However, if you register your copyright (which costs money), then you are provided with the ability to be awarded legal fees if you win your case in a court of law.

IOW, automatic copyright is useless especially in today's world of theft first, apologize later/never.

Science is based on open information sharing (4, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498442)

(with proper attribution)

Any restriction on this is a despicable attack on the advancement of science.

Current journal paywalls ought to be against the law. They ensure that only academia
at the richest institutions have full access to other scientists' work.

Academics at poorer institutions, here and around the world, and amateur researchers
who may be just as intelligent as the established, are shut out. It is an outrageous
and unjustifiable situation.

We need a different economic model to pay for the service of editing and coordinating
peer review. Maybe that cost ought to be covered by a journal submission fee.
Hardcopy publication is now officially not needed, nor should we be paying hardcopy publishing
companies just for the right to view the online published information. That's rubbish, and
it's harmful to the progress of knowledge.

Re:Science is based on open information sharing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498580)

When you're ready to provide that different model for academic publishing (and pay for the transition and support for its administration), please let us know. Until then you're just another asshole telling people how they ought to act against their own interests, and against the quite valuable prevailing model of academic publication.
 
"Amateur researchers" include the worst of the cranks and religionists, who rightly face enormous hurdles to publication in respected journals.
 
And you think a poll tax is the answer? I'm not calling you a socialist or a loon; I'm calling you a moron.

Re:Science is based on open information sharing (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498816)

When you're ready to provide that different model for academic publishing (and pay for the transition and support for its administration), please let us know. Until then you're just another asshole telling people how they ought to act against their own interests, and against the quite valuable prevailing model of academic publication.

The prevailing model is valuable only to commercial publishers, and their interests are the only ones who are threatened by open access. Good riddance!

Re:Science is based on open information sharing (3, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498746)

This is a remarkably naive viewpoint. I am responding only because it has been modded (at this point) to +3.

Journals who require payment for full text or PDF download do not "ensure that only academia and the richest institutions have full access ..." I work at one of the oldest and most famous institutions in the world. Many of the journals where my peers publish are not on the subscription list, and thus I must pay for each access. So, that assertion is not true.

Each paper costs perhaps $10 to $20. Please show me someone who is smart and motivated enough to be able to contribute to scientific thought and advancement who cannot afford that on occasion. And yes, I pay for those articles out of my own pocket.

Before the Internet, we had manuscript request cards where, if you saw a paper referenced, you could send a card to the author, and they would mail you back a hardcopy of the manuscript. Up until a few years ago, I would still get one every now and then from somewhere in the far east or Africa. The cost for those is a stamp and a postcard. Please show me someone -- anyone, even one person -- who is sane enough to be able to contribute to science and cannot afford that.

Even now, most publishers allow authors to post PDFs of their work on the author's private web site. If you can afford internet access, you can get nearly every paper. If you can't get one immediately, you can still send email to the author and request a copy in the email equivalent of the post cards from yesteryear. Please show me anyone -- even one person -- who can afford internet access who cannot get email access and request PDFs, or printed manuscripts, that way.

Yes, it is not quite as convenient as being able to immediately download manuscripts from the publisher's web sites as soon as they are published. Boo-hoo. I can't afford to live in the best neighborhood, and that impedes my ability to be a professional scientist because I have a longer commute. Is that also despicable? Should I be allowed to live in the best areas for no cost just because I *want* to?

Modern science, in most but not all fields, is an expensive proposition. The days of amateur scientists making serious contributions in all but a small number of areas are long gone. Saying that we must make all access free (and thus eliminating the valuable filtering service that the journals provide) is a nice pipe-dream but is not rooted in reality. Furthermore, a smart and sufficiently motivated person can make contributions to science -- I had an intern two summers ago who overcame some serious hurdles, including coming from a third-world country, stayed 1-1/2 months in my lab and did enough work to have two publications come out of it -- and not having immediate and free access to all articles is not a limiting factor.

Re:Science is based on open information sharing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498898)

(posting from my phone)

In my field I have published over 2,000 articles over the years - over 100 in peer reviewed journals.

The model needs to change.

Most of these research papers are funded by public research dollars.

Those research dollars paid by publication fees to the publishers (yes, we have to PAY THEM to publish our papers).

Others do the peer review for FREE (I know I have never been paid to do a peer review - and I have done many)

The publishing houses get the publication fee (which can be substantial), charge for the journal (again, not the cost of popular science), charge for database access (again, fairly good $$ in this alone), and charge more for individual papers (The best part is that they all claim they are poor doing so!)

For what, exactly?

The NIH got it right requiring all NIH funded research to be published in pubmed.

The public should have access to them.

It's no longer the 1800's or even the 1900's. Its 2011, and its time to open the flood gates of information.

Re:Science is based on open information sharing (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498796)

We need a different economic model to pay for the service of editing and coordinating peer review. Maybe that cost ought to be covered by a journal submission fee. Hardcopy publication is now officially not needed, nor should we be paying hardcopy publishing companies just for the right to view the online published information. That's rubbish, and it's harmful to the progress of knowledge.

The different model is that academics do this as part of their commitment to service. What's in it for them is that, since reputation is the coin of the academic realm, by serving on editorial boards their own status as an expert is promoted. There are already plenty of journals that work this way. Hard copy is oldthink, let those few readers who want to kill trees to read a journal use print on demand.

If Your Thesis Had Any Value... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498514)

...you would have copied the valuable parts into a copyright/patented property and protected it that way.
 
Anything you don't care enough about to do either of those things is worthless in commercial value.
 
I went through this stage early in my publishing career. If you didn't see the value in copyrighting your IP, it's almost certainly worthless (to you, as a commercial property).
 
If someone more inventive than you can make money from it, let them have it, because you did not have the wit to do so yourself.
 
Your question seems to be about whether and how to be the dog in the manger. Think about that.

Re:If Your Thesis Had Any Value... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498682)

Score:-1 Asshole

one i've used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498548)

Copyright © September 2011 by XXXXXXX. All rights reserved. This
document is hereby made freely available for the use of any and
all worldwide. Permission is granted to anyone to make or
distribute verbatim copies of this document, in any medium,
provided that, except with written permission, the text remains
unaltered, and this copyright notice and permission notice are
preserved. Except with written permission, no charge
whatsoever for redistribution may be made.

Departmental standard format (1)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498598)

If your school/department is at least somewhat organized, they will already have guidelines stipulated on the format of the thesis document, and these guidelines would include a pre-defined copyright notice that you must include. That's been my experience at two different Universities, and as far as I am aware, it's not an option to swap in my own copyright notice.

All it really does is ensure that the University owns full rights to republish the work - but so do I.

post it online; problem solved (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498656)

I am wrapping up an MS. In the past I have had problems getting copies of others' work, due to lack of copyright notices on their thesis or dissertation. I don't want that happen to me.

Post a digital copy online. Problem solved. As long as a digital copy is available for free online, others will have access to it, regardless of its copyright status. If you're in a field like physics, you could post it on arxiv.org. If you're in a field that doesn't have anything like arxiv, just post it on your own site, or on a site such as scribd.

Copyright (1)

yar (170650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498666)

What country are you in? Copyright law is going to be different in different places, at least a bit.

What university are you at? Some universities require students' to turn over copyright in their work (although many don't). Some universities also have requirements or restrictions on how you may license the work- the most common one I've seen recently is requiring students to allow the library to provide an electronic version.

Assuming US law, part of your statement is redundant; someone else can't legally claim copyright in your work, either published excerpts or its entirety.

Your pirate/steal bit is a bit confusing, even without the normal misuse of the terms to describe infringement. ;) If something is in the public domain, anyone can use it for any purpose, commercial or not. Once you've put it in the public domain, in this situation it probably can't be taken out of the public domain. (It would be nice to say that can never happen for any reason, but there is some precedent for some foreign works that probably doesn't apply here).

Creative Commons does sound like your best bet- check it out. ^^

What ought to be said (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498700)

Your thesis will not be put to commercial use no matter the "license" because it interests no one. It will be bound cheaply with all the others and it will sit in a library and it will be forgotten. It is not important. The world is indifferent to it because it is not important. You are not important because you have jumped through this hoop. You are one of millions and you are not important.

Best copyright notice (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498730)

Best copyright notice I know of came from Woody Guthrie [wikipedia.org] :

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

Really? This is your best effort? (3, Insightful)

RedLeg (22564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498748)

Warning: --Flammable Objects ahead!--

You're polishing your thesis, the crown jewel of a Masters of Science degree, and you can't figure this one out on your own?

Worse, you ask HERE!?!

Hint: Perhaps you should harness some of the experience in researching that you've piled into the past 5-7 years of academia, along with INSIDER ACCESS to academia to get an answer and recommendation worthy of consideration. Does your university have a law school? Go find a member of the legal faculty with some modern clue in the field of intellectual property.

On the other hand, you could rely on the 2^n monkeys on the Internet banging random crapola into keyboards to eventually come up with the "right answer".

Oh, wait......

( Sheesh.... )

Red

Check your submission forms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498798)

I recently finished an ME myself, as part of this I had to submit digital copies to my university's library. Reading through those submission forms they automatically put it under one of the CC licenses. Where you are doing yours might as well.

Just put the date on it (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37498882)

I don't normally care about the copyright if it's a document on the web, because I can just point people at the original.

But I do care about when something was written.

It is mind-boggling how many academic papers out there that don't have a damn date on them.

C'mon people -- if you want to help out the knowledge of the world, you're not being serious if you can't help us put it in a timeline.

It's your copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37498914)

Posting anonymously for obvious reasons...

First of all, it's your copyright to do what you want when you want. There's nothing preventing you from keeping all rights to yourself, then later republishing it under a creative commons or other license. In fact I suggest you do that, because if whatever you have is valuable someone will claim it.

So what, you say? I was threatened with a lawsuit by my former advisor. Basically I failed to copyright my code, and he had the university license it to his company. I wanted to use the code, and he said I couldn't because it wasn't mine. He was probably wrong, but I couldn't afford a lawsuit so I had to let it go. Later I learned that his threat wasn't an idle one--he ended up suing a former student.

Put a copy of your entire codebase as an appendix in your thesis. No one hesitated when I wrote "Copyright me. All rights reserved." I suspect there's a good bit of case law about the work you do for your education belonging to you. Putting your stamp on it makes it a lot easier, I suspect. IANAL though.

Distribute it youself. (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499078)

If you've got a web site and you can download your thesis from there, then it doesn't matter the terms because you haven't transferred exclusive electronic distribution rights to your University or a third party. Then, just to be sure, copy it to a preprint server that doesn't allow revocation of distribution rights. for example arXiv, or the equivalent in your field. At that point you've at least guaranteed distribution rights.

Upload it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499084)

Upload it to a porn site.

Public Domain (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499088)

Public domain protects anyone else from copyrighting it, but of course doesn't prevent anyone else from copying it. Claiming it as their own and trying to enforce copyright would be fraud, but someone might possibly try it. Public domain will not prevent anyone from removing attribution to you, or prevent anyone from doing anything else with the content except possibly prevent them from (successfully) claiming it as their own (if you or someone else challenges them).

A license like a Creative Commons one could do all that the public domain does, but also require attribution to you, and make it easier in court (or in threatening letters) to prevent others from falsely claiming your work or interfering with distribution through a frauduent copyright claim.

But in any case you'd have to actually do something to prevent someone else from doing something with what you publish.

Do not "release" copyright! (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499132)

Grant "Usage Rights".

I'd go with the Creative Commons language, posted earlier. It will do what you want and has been examined by lawyers.

we enjoy slashdot editors stirring the pot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37499178)

This was pretty good, but I prefer "ask slashdot" articles of the form "I have 5 million dollars to create "the computer center of the future" but my boss is an idiot, and what game card do slashdotters think I should use here? Also is it OK to put a comfy chair in the machine room?" When I was a kid, car mags use to run articles like "Porsche or Corvette - which is really better"? You need to keep the reader involved or they'll lose attention.

Treat it as a preprint (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37499256)

Do what everyone else does with preprint papers in your field. I don't know what people do with preprints in your field, but a MS thesis isn't peer reviewed in the way papers are, so it fits nicely in the preprint category assuming you've actually done at least a tiny amount of work that qualifies as original research. Ask what researchers do with preprints in your field and then do that. Even better, ask your adviser what you should do with your MS thesis. If you are going to to publish papers with your master's thesis work in it, then you may want to downplay your thesis in favor of those papers.
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