I was wondering if images with license of type CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en can be safely (legally) included when a dissertation is published with ProQuest by my university.

Also: The question is: If I do not publish open access, can I include CC-BY-SA images?

  • 1
    What do you mean by "safely"?
    – Buffy
    Nov 23 '20 at 11:35
  • Well, I want to be legally safe, so I can publish my dissertation with ProQuest and not be liable.
    – stephanmg
    Nov 23 '20 at 12:07

Presumably the question is whether the "sharealike" requirement of CC-BY-SA would "contaminate" the copyright of the dissertation. If you are OK with having your dissertation under CC-BY-SA, and your university and advisor are OK too, it is not really an issue. (Your university and/or advisor may impose restrictions on what goes into your dissertation. Follow them even if unrelated to copyright and even if they seem nonsensical.)

If not, in the US (and most Western jurisdictions), there is some form of "fair use" doctrine under which critical discussion allows to reproduce otherwise-copyrighted material, sometimes with a particular notice, indication of source etc. Under this, whether the image is CC-BY-SA or any other license (or no license at all) is irrelevant - you reproduce it under fair use or the local equivalent. Again, check your university is OK with this.

(On a side note, many scientific journals will refuse that you reproduce graphs from other papers without written permission, even though that use would usually satisfy fair use requirements. That is because being sued is costly even if you are guaranteed to win.)

  • Yes, you are right. I am just wondering what will be the license my university will be using for my dissertation. As I understand it CC-BY-SA licensed images are of no problem, no matter what the university will chose as a license. Correct?
    – stephanmg
    Nov 23 '20 at 12:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.