The best resource for theses and dissertations at VCU is the Graduate School Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Manual. Note the copyright information found in Section IV.
All theses and dissertations will be published online with Scholars Compass, the publishing platform for the intellectual output of VCU’s academic, research, and administrative communities. Dissertations will be published with ProQuest. Publishing theses with ProQuest is optional.
Both Scholars Compass and ProQuest allow you to keep full ownership of your copyright. Each asks for the nonexclusive right to publish your work, meaning you are free to publish it elsewhere, create derivative works, or exercise any other of your exclusive rights.
Copyright registration can be completed online through the Copyright Office registration page. For dissertations, ProQuest will register copyright in your name for a fee.
Although copyright registration is not required, registering your work creates a public record of your copyright claim that can help future researchers identify you as the copyright holder and the date of publication. Registration upon publication also provides additional legal benefits in case you should need to take legal action to protect your work. For most works, copyright registration is required before filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement. If you register your work upon publication, you are eligible to seek more significant “statutory damages” in addition to “actual damages” in an infringement claim. If you win the lawsuit, you are also eligible for the court to order reimbursement of your attorney fees. Without these potential benefits, you may find it more difficult to protect your work through a legal claim.