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Digital Commons

A guide to posting and navigating DigitalCommons@CalPoly


Use of Original Work not Created by the Student

Students need to secure copyright permissions from the original copyright owner if the senior project contains third party content (including but limited to images, large quantities of journal or book content, tables and figures, music and other accompanying material). Consult the library copyright web page for additional guidance on this topic:

Cal Poly Intellectual Property Policy

The full policy can be accessed online at

Copyright Protection of Student Work

Original work is automatically protected under copyright as soon as it is recorded in a tangible form. Senior projects do not have to be registered through the U.S. Copyright Office for their work to be protected by copyright. For more information, please visit the US Copyright wesite.

If you wish to further clarify the rights of reuse of your intellectual property, you may consider utilizing a CreativeCommons license, which is a free legal tool that helps authors easily indicate the allowed uses they want their work to carry. Learn more about CreativeCommons at:

Electronic Distribution of Senior Projects

Levels of Distribution

Two levels of electronic distribution of senior projects are available. A student, in concert with his/her advisor, may choose the level which fits the situation.

Worldwide Online Distribution (Default)

The first option, recommended by the University and Library, is to make the information freely available worldwide immediately. It should be noted that this Open Access option may be viewed by some book or journal publishers as publishing the work. They may see a conflict with this level of distribution of the senior project.


The second option is to embargo (restrict) the senior project for patent, proprietary, or data sensitivity reasons. The student, with the written approval of his/her advisor, may select “restricted access” distribution for the senior project. During the submission process, the student will have the ability to indicate the initial embargo time period.

A senior project under the “Restricted Access” status will be unavailable for a period of 1 year or 5 years. The file will not be made visible or available. Only the descriptive data (author, title, abstract, and basic information about the submission) will be publicly visible. The student may contact the Kennedy Library to obtain a 1 year extension before the expiration of the initial restriction. After the restriction expires, the document will be moved into open access (worldwide) distribution unless an exception has been granted by the department and/or college/school.