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Copyright Information & Resources


The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act (Section 110 (2)) facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education.

It is important to understand that the TEACH Act serves as an extension of existing copyright laws. The TEACH Act covers additional situations that may occur in the digital environment but not in the face-to-face classroom.

Fair Use and the TEACH ACT

The major exceptions to the copyright owner’s exclusive rights are: 

  • fair use
  • the face-to-face teaching exception,
  • the distance-learning exception (TEACH Act),
  • the library and archives exception.

Fair Use allows reproduction of copyrighted works for purposes of teaching, scholarship, and research.  The statue sets four factors to be considered in determining whether a use is fair:

The four factors to consider are:

  • the purpose and character of your use
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market

TEACH Act Basics

In order for the use of copyrighted materials in online education to qualify for the TEACH exemptions, the following criteria must be met:

  • The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
  • The use must be part of mediated instructional activities.
  • The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
  • The use must either be for 'live' or asynchronous class sessions.
  • The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials "typically purchased or acquired by students," or works developed specifically for online uses.
  • Only "reasonable and limited portions," such as might be performed or displayed during a typical live classroom session, may be used.
  • The institution must have developed and publicized its copyright policies, specifically informing students that course content may be covered by copyright, and include a notice of copyright on the online materials.
  • The institution must implement some technological measures to ensure compliance with these policies, beyond merely assigning a password. Ensuring compliance through technological means may include user and location authentication through Internet Protocol (IP) checking, content timeouts, print-disabling, cut & paste disabling, etc.

What TEACH Does Not Allow

The new exemptions under TEACH specifically do not extend to:

  • Electronic reserves, coursepacks (electronic or paper) or interlibrary loan (ILL).
  • Commercial document delivery.
  • Textbooks or other digital content provided under license from the author, publisher, aggregator or other entity.
  • Conversion of materials from analog to digital formats, except when the converted material is used solely for authorized transmissions and when a digital version of a work is unavailable or protected by technological measures.

It is also important to note that TEACH does not supersede fair use or existing digital license agreements.

Outside of Class


It does not cover materials an instructor may want students to study, read, listen to or watch on their own time outside of class. Instructors will have to rely on other rights they may have to post those materials, such as the fair use statute, or get permission.

In the case of films that an instructor may want students  to watch on their own time, consult with the library to see if the film or films can be provided to an instructor with all the fair use and permissions obtained legally for the instructor.