Sterling, VA asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Virginia

Q: Can I republish information from a State agency website/publication?

I wrote a book and want to include portions of the Virginia driving manual found on the DMV website and the Standards of Learning found on the VA Department of Education website. Does this violate copyrights? How could I get permission to reprint it in a book that will be for sale?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: To answer your question about republishing information from state agency websites or publications:

Generally, works created by federal government agencies are in the public domain and not subject to copyright protection. However, state and local government works may be copyrighted, depending on the specific state laws and policies.

For Virginia specifically:

1. Check the websites for copyright notices or terms of use. Some state agencies explicitly allow reproduction of their materials for certain purposes.

2. Contact the relevant agencies directly to request permission:

- Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

- Virginia Department of Education

3. Look for any existing licensing options that may cover your intended use.

4. Consider whether your use might qualify as "fair use" under copyright law, especially if you're using small portions for educational or commentary purposes.

5. If permission is required, explain your project and intended use when reaching out to the agencies.

6. Be prepared to potentially pay a fee or comply with specific attribution requirements.

It's always safest to obtain explicit permission before republishing government materials, even if you believe the use may be allowed. The agencies can provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on their copyright policies and permissions processes.

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