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Virginia Military Institute
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Copyright Policy

The following is offered in an attempt to make faculty, cadets, and staff more aware of copyright law and policy and our responsibilities towards it. For more extensive explanations and treatments of copyright law, policy, and rights and responsibilities, refer to the documents cited below.


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. The Copyright Act of 1976 replaced the Act of 1909.

Copyright Claim

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. Publication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyright as it was under the Copyright Act of 1909. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright.

Copyright Endurance

Generally, copyright extends from the moment of a work's creation to 70 years after the author's death. See the document, Copyright Basics pp. 5-6 (below) for a more extensive treatment.

Links to Copyright Information

The Library of Congress maintains an extensive repository of copyright information. Some of the more informative documents for educators are the following:

The Interlibrary Loan office in Preston Library maintains copies of these works.