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FIU Digital Project Guidelines and Help Materials

The internal standard operating procedures for FIU Libraries' digital collections

Copyright, Patents and Author Permissions Clearance

Digitizing dissertations and theses provides a service for FIU alumni which preserves and provides access to their scholarship at no cost to them.  FIU takes a multi-tiered approach to enable access to scholarship in theses and dissertations, while respecting the authors’ intellectual property. 

All theses and dissertations will be scanned for preservation in the Florida Digital Archive (FDA).  The FDA provides a long-term preservation repository for digital materials but as a Dark Archive, the FDA can only be accessed by FIU as an FDA affiliate. 

Retrospective theses and dissertations will not be made fully available or excerpted until due diligence is completed. FIU’s Digital Collections Center (DCC) will make a good faith effort to contact authors and give them a chance to opt-out from online access to their thesis or dissertation. 

FIU has rights for student theses but not explicit electronic rights for older theses (e.g. from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s). Utilizing an opt-out policy will maximize access while respecting author’s rights.  Authors may at any point contact the DCC and request a takedown of their material. 

Outreach – Contact Theses Authors

The goal is to use due diligence to contact theses and dissertation authors and notify them about a new service for alumni where we digitize their dissertations for access and preservation.  After a minimum of 90 days after the first attempted contact, a full or excerpt (for creative works) will be made available. Authors will be given an option to opt-out during the 90 days if desired or request a takedown of their material at any time.

Generating the contact list:

1)     Work with alumni association to get list of all alumni who graduated from FIU with a PhD or Masters

a)     Use the most recent FIU Alumni Directory (Currently Alumni Today 2013).

b)     Add email information to the project spreadsheet.

Contacting the authors:

1)     E-mail notification with second attempt at 60 days (see email form letter):

a)     Deadline is 90 days after first attempted contact

b)     After the deadline, a full or excerpt (for creative works) will be made available.

2)     Proceed with digitization of dissertations for preservation

a)     Allow online access unless author opts-out before deadline

b)     Remove access if receive an opt-out request or takedown notice.

c)     Take-down requests will be honored at any time.

Terms and Conditions

The FIU Library has a web page listing Terms of Use.  The Digital Commons site does not have an explicit fair use guideline for dissertations accessible from the site.  A link to the Terms of Use page should be on the Digital Commons home page.  A link to the Regulations for Thesis and Dissertation ( should also be provided in the FAQ page.

Outreach – Due Diligence for Author Contact/Opt-Out

For authors without alumni contact information or with incorrect information, a “reasonable search” will be conducted on the Internet.  This search will be conducted for authors for whom contact information was not obtained from the alumni association.   Searches for authors will be conducted using their name, paper subject, and DOB to identify authors using search tools. 

Theses leading to a patent, registered for copyright in addition to the implicit copyright from creation, or with published material will be identified to inform decisions on access to the materials.

A report on outreach efforts would show a good faith effort to reach the authors and provide them reasonable time (minimum 90 days) to opt-out of making a full copy or excerpt or their work available. Takedown notices will be honored at any time for authors who do not wish to have online access to their materials.

Reasonable Search

Steps 1-2 will be taken in order until contact information is found or all steps are completed. 

1)     Online search tools:

a)     Google:  

b)     LinkedIn:

c)     That's them:

d)     White Pages:

2)     Contacting the departments:

a)     Some researchers may still collaborate with theses authors and have current contact information.

b)     The major professor may have remained in contact with the author.

Identify Intellectual Property Issues

1)     Check the FIU Research Office:

a)     List of patents to compare to list of dissertations on the project spreadsheet:

2)     Find patents using other resources:

a)     FPO site:

b)     U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

3)     Check for copyright registration or journal publication:

a)     U.S. Copyright Office:

b)     Web of Knowledge: 

Allow for Opt-out

  • Provide an email and phone number to the DCC:
    • Advertise in alumni publications.
    • Add to comments in Digital Commons.
    • Opt-outs and takedown notices are unlikely to generate a large amount of traffic.

Form letter


Subject: FIU’s digitization of your «thesis_degree_discipline» «document_type»

Dear «author name»:

Florida International University’s Digital Collections Center is offering a new service to graduate alumni: digitization of your theses and dissertations.  This new service will enable your scholarship to be preserved and shared for research and educational purposes, at no cost to you, and will be made available through FIU’s Electronic Theses and Dissertations on our Digital Commons website. The FIU Digital Commons is a digital repository for capturing, archiving and disseminating the research, creative and scholarly output of the Florida International University community.  Our graduates’ theses and dissertations are a valuable part of FIU’s scholarship, and are a frequently accessed part of our digital collections.

Your «publication_date» «document_type» titled «Title»is in the process of being digitized for preservation and so that it may be made available in Digital Commons.  At your earliest convenience, please reply to this email providing your authorization for your «document_type» to be made available online.  Please be advised that FIU may make your «document_type» available online if we do not hear back from you within 90 days. If at any point you wish to have your «document_type» taken offline, please contact us at and we will be happy to do so. To accommodate needs such as publishing contracts and patents, FIU can also add a period of embargo, or alternatively provide only an excerpt of your «document_type». 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your contributions to Florida International University!



Reference # «FI_Number»