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Copyright: RightsLink

This guide provides information on copyright in relation to library collections and their use for teaching, learning and research.


RightsLink: a step-by-step guide

Administered by the Copyright Clearance Center, RightsLink is an online system for obtaining permission to reproduce copyrighted material, including for use in theses. The majority of the world’s leading academic publishers have now partnered with the RightsLink service. These include Elsevier, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, and Oxford University Press.

Permissions for the re-use of figures/tables/illustrations in a postgraduate research thesis are normally free. Most publishers allow non-commercial, academic use of this material. Remember, UCD does not expect you to have to pay to include material in your thesis. 

Step 1

We will use the example of an image from an article in The Journal of Controlled Release. The journal is published by Elsevier and the article is available online to UCD students through Elsevier’s ScienceDirect database. 

Find the article in the publisher’s online database and note the original reference of the image. Click on the ‘Get rights and content’ link. (Other publisher databases have similar links with titles like ‘Get permission’, ‘Request permission’, or ‘Reprints and permission’)

SD article 1

science direct illustration 1

Step 2

If you are a first-time user, choose ‘Create Account’. (If you are a returning user, choose ‘Login’)

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Step 3

Create an ‘Individual’ account. Use your home/permanent address. The VAT/Tax information is not needed. 

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Step 4

Choose the ‘reuse in a thesis/dissertation’ option. 

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Step 5

Choose the ‘figures/tables/illustrations’ option and ‘both print and electronic’ format. In this example, permission is being sought to reproduce one image.

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Step 6

Confirm that the grant of permission will be free by clicking the ‘Quick Price’ button. In this case the price will display as ‘0.00’, which means that the permission will be granted for free. However, the message emphasises that the RightsLink process must still be completed for permission to be granted.

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Step 7

If you have not used RightsLink before, enter the details of your thesis. Use either your planned submission date or (if known) your viva examination date. (If you have used RightsLink before, the system will remember the details of your thesis) 

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Step 8

Enter the original reference of the image you wish to reproduce (see step 1).  For your own records you can create an Order Reference Number, but this is not necessary.

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Step 9

Review your order and accept the terms and conditions. You do not need to enter a Customer Code. 

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Step 10

The confirmation screen will display the details of the permission grant.  A copy will also be emailed to the address you provided when creating your RightsLink account. Clicking on ‘printable details’ leads to a version which can be printed or saved as a PDF file.

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Key Points:

  • Even if the ‘Quick Price’ function displays as €0.00, you must still click on ‘Continue’ and complete the RightsLink process. 
  • A licence to reproduce material is fully valid, even though the price displays as ‘0.00’.
  • You should keep copies of all your permission documents, including RightsLink licences.
  • UCD does not expect you to have to pay to include material in your thesis.