Skip to Main Content

Photographs and Images: Using Images in Theses and Dissertations

UNM'S collection of photographs, postcards, slides, lithographs, etchings, engravings, and other pictorial documentation.

Using Images in Theses and Dissertations

Historically, images were reproduced in dissertations and theses without obtaining permissions from the copyright holders. Because of the clearly academic, non-commercial nature of theses and dissertations, and because access to theses and dissertations was typically confined to an academic, library setting, there seemed to be little dispute that the incorporation of such images into these or dissertations was a fair use.

As theses and dissertations began to be posted to online repositories, the publishers of those repositories sometime required that graduate students posting theses to their repositories obtain copyright permissions for images. While UNM's Digital Respository does not have an institutional policy on the use of images in theses and dissertations, the UNM Office of Graduate Studies stipulates that students should obtain copyright.


The Office of Graduate Studies at UNM offers the following guidelines:

Registering Your Copyright

Registering your copyright in your thesis or dissertation is optional. Under current United States copyright Law, the moment you reduce a work to a tangible medium (i.e., write it on paper, save on hard drive or other storage device, take the photograph, record the music, etc.) your thesis or dissertation is copyrighted. This applies to unpublished manuscripts as well. There is no longer the need to register your work for copyright to attach. Furthermore, there is no longer the requirement of putting a copyright notice on a work for it to be copyrighted. You may register your copyright either by having ProQuest do so (see above) or on your own by submitting a registration form, which you can pick-up at Zimmerman Library Government Publications or download from US Copyright Office's web page, with a check for thirty five ($35) dollars, and two copies of your thesis or dissertation. Additional information can be obtained by calling 202-287-8700 or going to the web site of the United States Copyright Office.


Including Copyrighted Material in Your Manuscript

You should remember that if you quote or otherwise reproduce in your thesis or dissertation material previously copyrighted by another author, beyond brief excerpts, you must obtain written permission from the copyright owner. Keep in mind that if a work was created in or after 1989, there is no requirement that it have a copyright notice to be copyrighted This includes foreign works and foreign works for which the copyright has been reinstated pursuant to international treaty.

Copyright law is extremely complex and it can be difficult to determine what action you need to take and where to begin looking for permissions. The Office of Graduate Studies Publishing web site contains a great deal of information and has been helpful to students. The Office of Graduate Studies does not provide copyright advisement.

Pictorial Archivist

Profile Photo
Cindy Abel Morris
Center for Southwest Research/Special Collections, Room 127B