Copyright ownership

Students own copyright in their thesis, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The physical document (thesis, research paper, work term report, examination answer paper and such) submitted to the University by a student becomes the property of the University.
  2. The University receives a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty free licence to:
  • circulate the work as part of the University Library collection, including but not limited to within the University’s institutional repository, UWSpace;   
  • make copies or representations of the work for academic purposes within the University;
  • make copies of a thesis deposited in the University Library at the request of other universities or bona fide institutions;
  • submit the work to Library and Archives Canada;
  • publish the abstract of any work which is a student thesis.
  1. Deposit in the UWSpace requires the student to agree to the Non-Exclusive Distribution License for Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Computer programs written or partially written by a student in support of a project, thesis or other original work, may have potential value as a marketable intellectual property. The University acknowledges the student's ownership of all rights with respect to such software except as follows:

  1. Students may be required to sign a waiver of rights to software by the academic department for which a supervised project or thesis is to be undertaken, or by the faculty supervisor of the project or thesis.
  2. The University assumes a non-exclusive, paid-up, royalty-free licence to use, for the University's administration, education and research activities, all software written using University facilities or written in support of academic work at the University. This licence does not include the right to use the software for commercial purposes or to distribute the software to others.
  3. Students acquire no rights to software written under supervision in the course of employment by the University.

Use of copyrighted material

It is common for theses and dissertations to contain content created by third parties. Even if you are reusing content that you authored and have published elsewhere, your publishing contract may have required you to transfer copyright to the publisher. It is your responsibility to ensure that all content in your thesis is used in accordance with the Copyright Act. If your thesis contains content where copyright is owned by a third party, read the Third party content use page of the UWSpace submission guide.

More information

Policy 73 -  Contains more information about the ownership of copyright and other intellectual property (patent, trademark) at Waterloo.

Copyright at Waterloo Frequently Asked Questions – Contains answers to commonly asked copyright questions.


Email for help with copyright questions related to your thesis.