In some sense this question follows the question:
Is it necessary to obtain permissions for copying figures from published articles in your proposal/dissertation?

Following F'x's advice and my own university's very stringent requirements, I have applied for permissions for reuse of figures in my dissertation. I plan to drop the figures, the permission for reuse of which has not been provided freely by the respective holder.

I hadn't given this much thought before, but what permissions are necessary for reuse of figures in a dissertation defense? I mean the powerpoint presentation slides. Of course, clear and prominent attribution is the minimum requirement, but is there a clear law on this? It's become reasonably convenient to obtain permissions from US publishers (copyright.com), but what if the publisher in question is based in Europe?

2 Answers 2


If you aren't planning to publish you slides, I would advise you to not worry about copyright law in this case. Copyright law applies to your use of material in slides just like it does any other medium, but there is more possible latitude for fair use claims. That "possible latitude" means legal grey area and lots of possible time and money that can be sunk into a likely fruitless attempt to achieve clarity, since many edge cases may have no official legal determination yet.

Thus, my real advice is this: worry about communicating, not about copyright. Nobody at your defense will report you for copyright infringements. More care is appropriate when posting online, but it is still the case that a) probably nobody will care and b) if somebody does care, the expected action will be to ask you to remove the image from the posted slide.


I would say you'd have little difficulty convincing nearly anyone that using a properly-attributed figure to improve understanding in an academic presentation should fall under fair use.

Also, the only people with standing to bring any sort of DMCA notice against you probably either aren't going to be present (unaffiliated authors) or would give permission readily (like a committee member).

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