I'm in the final stages of preparing my dissertation. I've noticed that former graduates from my department have included the text "© [student's name]" at the bottom of their title pages. Is this necessary to include in a dissertation? What would be the consequences of not including it? (I'm in Canada, if it matters.)

  • 11
    You do not need it to assert copyright, but it may well be standard format - check with the department or the thesis secretary (not sure they exist anymore - their job was to make sure that the thesis format would work with the microfilm archiving folks).
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:33
  • 1
    I think at the U.S. University I did mine, it was a rule of the University to put in the Copyright notice, and there is no harm in doing so. Mar 10, 2022 at 14:31
  • My University had several other formatting rules; thankfully, my dissertation met them all. Mar 10, 2022 at 14:32
  • 1
    Consider that there's a lot of plagiary of theses these days (sometimes bad machine translations into other languages), so anything that leads an automated search or plagiary detector to the version with your name and copyright statement is useful.
    – smci
    Mar 10, 2022 at 19:10

4 Answers 4


In most parts of the world this isn't necessary as copyright is automatic on creation of a work. There are some exceptions, but in Canada it won't be necessary. There is no reason you can't, but it is typical to add "All rights reserved" as part of the statement when needed.

Many years ago you needed this, and you also needed to register the copyrighted work with the government providing a copy (or large parts of it). But it became automatic many years ago.

See: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr02281.html, and especially the FAQ at the end for the specific answer to your question.

  • 2
    Thanks! Can you expand on "all rights reserved"? What does adding this phrase accomplish?
    – dB'
    Mar 9, 2022 at 21:17
  • 1
    It probably doesn't mean anything anymore, but just a convention. The list of rights is at the link in the answer: Translation, Interpretation, ... When you publish you give up most of those rights to the publisher in return for a license for some things. And if you give a CC license (for example), you yield some of those rights also.
    – Buffy
    Mar 9, 2022 at 21:20
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    The Buenos Aires Convention demanded "all rights reserved" or something similar be added; since all signers of that convention have now signed the Berne Convention, it's now moot.
    – prosfilaes
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:43
  • @prosfilaes, yes, the US was late to sign on to international copyright conventions. The Buenos Aires Convention was joined long before the Berne. Canada has a different history, of course.
    – Buffy
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:46
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    It wasn't until 2000 that the last member of the Buenos Aires Convention signed the Berne Convention, that being Nicaragua, and eight other nations of the Americas waited until the 90s to sign Berne (the US have signed in 1989). It's only been twenty years that you didn't need a copyright notice to protect a work in all nations of the Americas.
    – prosfilaes
    Mar 10, 2022 at 15:00

This is not a matter of copyright; it's a matter of your university's dissertation format rules. Check those. If they say you have to include it, then include it. I've seen sillier formatting rules enforced on PhD theses.

  • 4
    However, there's nothing to say you can't handwrite in the © symbol and name on your title page.
    – D Duck
    Mar 10, 2022 at 10:03

'Needed' - no. People add it because they see others adding it and they can assume the others know something they don't. It's a form of cargo culting - following a ritual without understanding the meaning.

  • Some people add it for this reason, and some people add it for other reasons, e.g. they want to make it clear to everyone that it is copyright.
    – gib
    Mar 12, 2022 at 10:49

As others have pointed out, a copyright notice is not strictly necessary.


  1. If your thesis includes graphics, text, datasets, software, etc. from others, then you should retain their copyright notices.
  2. You should mark the remainder of your thesis as belonging to you. This helps anybody that includes your content in their work.

In the software engineering, it is common for every project to have a LICENSE file. If a project includes another project as a dependency, the dependency's LICENSE file is kept intact.

  • In many places I know, a thesis would come with a cover page where the candidate confirms being the author in an academic sense, which is different from copyright law.
    – o.m.
    Mar 11, 2022 at 21:02
  • @o.m. so what are you saying? Mar 11, 2022 at 21:24
  • Software license is a different thing then copyright. Without the license nobody can be use the software without your permission. A thesis can be legally read, cited, and thrown away - that's basically all you want to do with somebody else's thesis.
    – usr1234567
    Mar 11, 2022 at 22:28
  • @usr1234567, I was referring to software licenses in the context of copyright and redistribution of source code and binaries. You may have been confused because "license" can also refer to purchasing a copy of a compiled software program for usage. Mar 12, 2022 at 0:14
  • I understood the last paragraph, but I think the analogy is wrong.
    – usr1234567
    Mar 12, 2022 at 0:34

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