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Copyright Permission: Student grant of permission template

This guide lists and links to organizations that manage copyright permissions.

Students own the copyright to their work

U.S. federal law, academic custom, and SUNY and ESC policy all agree that any content that you, as a student, create as part of their coursework belongs exclusively to you. (Group work may have co-authors. Co-authors co-own copyright, and have to agree on issues of licensing.) Because of the nature of our courses, there is an implied permission for instructor and in some cases, classmates to access and comment on the work, but that only applies within the course and for as long as you're enrolled in the course. 

If someone other than you wants to present, publish, post, distribute, or otherwise share the content that you created, you will need to give permission. This does not mean giving up ownership of your copyright! You will own the copyright, but give a license to make certain uses of your work under specific circumstances. It isn't customary to charge for this particular kind of license. 

You have three options:

  1. You can refuse to give a license. Our faculty understand and are on board with that, and it will not impact your grade to refuse to let them use your content outside of the course. 
  2. You can give your instructor a license. This is a very simple document. Formatting doesn't matter as long as it says all the things it needs to. It doesn't require a lawyer's review. It can be done by email. We have a template for you below. 
  3. You can put your work under a Creative Commons license. Like any license, you still retain ownership of your copyright, so you can still use your work any way you see fit. However, a Creative Commons license is granted to the whole world and can never be revoked. The limitations are all on how your work can be used. Some Creative Commons licenses are more permissive, others less so. That will be addressed below. 

Student License Template

Copy and paste this, and fill in your information. Edit it to remove the unnecessary options. Students, if your instructor prepares a license for you to sign, that is legitimate, but read it first, and don't be afraid to say no! If you have any questions about what the terms mean, Ask A Librarian! In fact, Ask A Librarian about any questions or concerns you have about the process. 


I (We), [NAME(S)], am (are) the creator(s) and copyright holder(s) of [TITLE OF YOUR CONTENT].

I (We) grant to [NAME OF THE PERSON WHO IS USING YOUR CONTENT] permission to make the following uses of the content:

Try to work out the details of this with your instructor (licensee) before you write this up. It will save a lot of time. Specify:

  • Whether they can use the whole thing, or part. Specify which part, using page numbers, time stamps, or whatever makes sense.
  • For how long they can use it. It can be "in perpetuity" (forever) or you can time-limit it. You can set a number of months or years, or an end date, or you can make it conditional on something else, like "for as long as they are employed at Empire State College." 
  • Where they can use it. For example, within Empire State College only, in a repository that's open to the world, on a web site that's open to the world, in a physical gallery, in a book that they are publishing, or at a certain conference presentation.
  • For what purpose they can use it. For example, "as an exemplar of an assignment," "for research purposes," "as learning materials in a course," or "to promote the college." 
  • Any specific limitations you can think of. For example, you might want to specify that your image has to stay at a certain size and resolution, or that your paper not be excerpted, because you want people to know the whole context. You might want to forbid commercial uses, or derivative works (a derivative work is when they create a work that uses part of yours or is based on yours.)

It might come out looking like, "I give permission for my work to be used in its entirety and in perpetuity, with access to it restricted to students and employees of  the SUNY system, for instructional and research purposes only." or "I give permission for pages 3 through 10 of my work to be used until December 31, 2020, as an exemplar of student work for [instructor name's] presentation, 'Innovative Pedagogies in the Sciences' at Educause 2020."


Licensor(s) signature(s): [SIGNATURES} (typing your name in a signature form counts as a signature)

Licensee signature: ________________________________________ (leave this blank for them)

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons is a system of licenses that works within copyright law and has been validated in the Supreme Court and international copyright organizations. They apply to everyone in the world and they can't be taken back. 

What happens is you click through a short set of options to select which Creative Commons license you want. Then you put in the information about your work - author, title, where it can be found, etc. Then it spits out a little logo and a "code nugget." You can copy and paste the logo and accompanying text onto anything that will be printed out. You can embed the code nugget in the HTML of any web resource. This is what identifies your resource as Creative Commons not only to human viewers, but also to search engines (because sometimes people specifically search for content that is licensed for open use.) 

So what are the Creative Commons options? Examples are things like,

  • "You can do anything you want with it, but you have to properly attribute the author"
  • "You can do anything you want with it, but you have to properly attribute the author and you can't use it commercially"
  • "You can use it, but you can't make any derivative works from it, and you have to properly attribute the author."

You can learn more about them here: 

And here is the form to choose a Creative Commons license and get the logo and "code nugget" to put into your work. (It doesn't count until you label them that way and then put them out into the world.)

And here is a quick video demonstration of how to use the License Chooser: