Graduate Policies & Procedures

Copyright and intellectual property policies

Students may apply to waive the Institute’s ownership of copyright to their theses and/or the Institute’s ownership of the intellectual property that results from thesis research. An important distinction is that copyright pertains only to the thesis document itself, whereas intellectual property ownership pertains to inventions and other developments described in the thesis document.

Copyright policy

The Institute’s policy concerning ownership of copyrights in theses is covered in Faculty Regulation 2.71. “The Institute will retain ownership of the copyrights to theses only if the thesis research is performed in whole or in part by the student with financial support in the form of wages, salary, stipend, or grant from funds administered by the Institute, and/or if the thesis research is performed in whole or in part utilizing equipment or facilities provided to the Institute under conditions that impose copyright restrictions. In all other cases, ownership of a copyright shall reside with the student.”

MIT does not assert rights to a student’s thesis if it was authored without sponsored research funds and without significant use of MIT-administered facilities/funds. If a student feels that MIT cannot or should not claim copyright ownership to their thesis, the student may request a waiver of the Institute’s copyrights by written application to the Institute’s Technology Licensing Office (NE25-230).

Where copyright ownership is retained by the student, the student must, as condition of a degree award, grant royalty-free permission to the Institute to reproduce and publicly distribute copies of the thesis and must place the following legend on the thesis title page or page immediately following: “The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly paper and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.”

Where copyright is retained by the Institute, any further publication in whole or in part shall be made only with the authorization of the Technology Licensing Office, in consultation with the head of the department or program in which the student was registered when the thesis was accepted, as needed. Guidance on current copyright procedures is included in the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published each year by the MIT Libraries.

Intellectual property policy

The Institute reserves the sole right to determine the distribution of inventions and other developments by faculty, staff, students, or others, developed wholly or in part under a sponsored research or other agreement or with the significant use of Institute facilities or funds administered by the Institute. In certain circumstances, the Institute may grant these rights to a student in accordance with the provisions of the Guide to the Ownership, Distribution and Commercial Development of MIT Technology. This distribution will be in a manner which, in the opinion of the Institute, and subject to restrictions imposed by any contract with a sponsoring agency, will be in the best interest of the Institute, the public, and the inventors. The Institute requires all individuals who receive MIT-administered funds, or who are in a position to invent or develop technology using significant funds or facilities, to enter into formal agreements to assign intellectual property to the Institute for ultimate distribution of rights.

MIT does not assert rights to a student’s inventions or other intellectual property  if they were developed  without sponsored research funds and without significant use of MIT-administered facilities/funds. If a student  feels that  MIT cannot or should not claim intellectual property ownership of their thesis research or other developments, the student may request a waiver of the Institute’s intellectual property rights by written application to the Institute’s Technology Licensing Office (NE25-230).

For further information, a student should refer to MIT Policies regarding Intellectual Property.