So I'm currently in the final phase of my master thesis and started writing a few days ago. My thesis bases its work on a public dataset (the authors published it on GitHub an state in their paper that it is "available to the public", couldn't find anything about a license or whatever).

Now I don't think that it is a problem that I based my work on that dataset, but I would also like to show some examples in my thesis (the dataset consist of annotated pictures basically). Is this a problem? I will of course cite the authors.

1 Answer 1


In principle it depends on the permissions given to you by the owners of the data. Any open source licence would give you permission to share elements of the dataset with attribution (though I am not a lawyer). If it's listed on GitHub there's usually a licence shown on the repository's main page (see screenshot). If not, you can contact the authors to ask them to be 100% above board.

A screenshot of a GitHub repository header

Copying a figure from a paper might be somewhat shakier, as the publisher may own the rights to images as published in the final version. Your country may have "fair use" or "fair dealing" exemptions from copyright requirements for educational uses of certain materials, but it could be complicated to ensure you are following these rules. A university librarian may be able to help you further.

In practice, I think it's very unlikely that there would be a problem with what you're planning to do.

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