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Copyright at Georgetown University

A main goal of Georgetown University, as a student-centered research institution, is the discovery, production, and dissemination of knowledge. The copyright policies of the University are intended to further that goal by providing appropriate incentives to faculty and members of the academic staff for the production of new knowledge.

(Faculty Handbook, Intellectual Property, section 8A)


University policies regarding authorship, use of resources, and respect for copyright law complement each other. 

The purpose of these pages is to inform the Georgetown community, to diminish liability for the individual and the institution, and to help individuals take advantage of their rights.

Learn about the Library's Open Access initiatives.

Electronic theses and dissertations

Information sessions for thesis authors are held regularly every semester, as advertised through the Graduate School. These sessions provide information on copyright, University policies, and submission procedures.

When submitting a thesis, authors must complete two release forms. The first form releases the thesis for publication in the University's Institutional Repository, while the second form governs the use of the thesis by ProQuest, the provider of our submission system. Copies of both forms are kept on file in the Graduate School.

Creating copyrightable material

It is important that as copyright creator you exercise your options to the full extent of the law. Faculty and researchers are strongly encouraged to manage their rights responsibly: Instead of signing all rights away to a publisher, you can use an addendum to retain some key rights. Unless you sign such an addendum, you may not be able to:

  • post your articles on your own website or blog
  • share your work with colleagues
  • deposit copies of articles in Georgetown's Institutional Repository, where they can be found by Google Scholar

Some excellent resources for authors are available from SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

If you don't publish your work commercially (e.g. by posing images online), you may choose to share your work under a public license. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free licenses so that people can share and build upon the work of others, consistent with copyright law

Using copyrighted material

Always assume that the material you are using is protected by copyright ... unless there is evidence to the contrary. You will either have to:

  • take full advantage of existing legal exemptions which support research, teaching, and learning responsibilities. The most important exemption is Fair Use. Several National organization have produced guides to best Practices in Fair use of specific types of material (e.g. video, still images).
  • request permission to use the material (from the publisher, the Copyright Clearance Center, etc...)

The Copyright at Georgetown University site offers information about using copyrighted materials, various links for help in making informed decisions, and support through University contacts.