Copyright and the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization)
The TEACH Act (2002) allows copyrighted works to be digitally transmitted to distance education students without permission of the copyright holder. TEACH requires academic institutions to first meet specific requirements for copyright compliance and education.
Institutions are not required to use and apply the TEACH Act to a distance education program (it is only applicable if you choose to use it). Other lawful uses of copyrighted works are still available, including fair use or getting permission.
- Teaching must occur at an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
- All materials used must be lawfully made and acquired.
- The use must be part of “mediated instructional activities”:
- integral to the course,
- under the direction of the course instructor, and
- equivalent to the kinds of performances or displays that one would expect in a physical setting
- Work is not a digital educational work.
- Materials that are to be used should not be primarily marketed towards distance education (electronic textbooks), be material you know or should know are illegal, or be textbooks, course packs, electronic reserves or other materials typically purchased by students for independent review outside the classroom (fair use still applies)
- Performances of non-dramatic literary and musical works (without narrative) can be shown in their entirety.
- Performances of dramatic works (with narrative) cannot be shown in their entirety - limited to “reasonable and limited portions” necessary to meet the teaching goal.
- Displays of any work (images, text) are allowed “in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom setting.”
- Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent students from distributing the material after viewing it.
- Limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific course (e.g. passwords, encryption).
- “Downstream controls” that reasonably prevent students from retaining the works beyond the class session and further distribution.
- No interference with technological measures taken by copyright owners that prevent retention and authorized distribution.
General Institutional Requirements:
- Establish and distribute copyright use policies.
- Promote copyright compliance.
- Provide notice to students that course materials may be protected by copyright.
- Example of notice "The materials on this course Web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated."
Course Materials Requirements:
- The materials must contain a notice stating that they may be subject to copyright protection.
- If there is no digital version available, then an analog version can be converted to digital but only in the amount that is needed.
A Sample Copyright Notice:
The materials on this course Web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.
It is an instructor's responsibility to ensure their use of copyrighted materials complies with copyright law. If the following checklists show that the TEACH Act does not apply to your use of media, it is possible the Fair Use exception of copyright law may still apply.