When you prepare your thesis or dissertation, you are both author and copyright holder of the original work, as well as a user of other people's copyrighted works.
When you use other people's works or incorporate third-party content into your work, your use must either be authorized under the fair use exception or permission must be sought from the copyright holder.
As an author of a dissertation, and many times of a thesis as well, you will be required to submit your work to ProQuest, a company who collects, organizes and disseminates dissertations from universities across the country. In order for ProQuest to accept your work, you will have to sign an agreement with them. This agreement is a non-exclusive license which authorizes them to use your work as described in the agreement. With a non-exclusive license, you retain the copyright to your work. You do not assign it to them. ProQuest has a document written by a copyright expert from Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, that explains copyright in detail and discusses, specifically, "Copyright Decisions and Your Dissertation" (Part III).
For more information on thesis/dissertation requirements at the University of Idaho, contact the UI College of Graduate Studies office at 208-885-6243.
Changing Scholarly Publishing: A Guide for Graduate Students - University of Tennessee