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Notes on Copyright and Patents

Emory University's Intellectual Property Policy does not assert copyright ownership of academic and scholarly copyrightable works created by Emory students. Therefore, you are the copyright owner of your thesis or dissertation.

Copyright protection begins automatically at the moment of creation and lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. After this term, the work falls out of copyright protection and into the public domain. You are not required to register your thesis or dissertation nor affix a copyright notice to it to enjoy copyright protection, but you have the option to register your copyright through ProQuest.

In order to include in your ETD any text, images, audiovisual or other material not created by you or for which you no longer own copyright, the material must either be unambiguously in the public domain or fall within the parameters of fair use. If the material does not fall within either of those categories, authors must receive permission from the copyright owner to include the material in their ETD.

Below are links to sample permissions letters. Each letter includes a second sheet with instructions for use.

If your ETD describes an invention or discovery that could potentially have commercial application and therefore may be patented, further conversation is required before you submit your ETD. If you or your faculty advisor(s) have any questions about patents and commercial applications, please contact Emory Office of Technology Transfer at

If you need further assistance, please contact the Emory Libraries' Scholarly Communications Office at for a consultation.