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Copyright and Creative Commons

Understanding copyright issues in the classroom, plus a self-paced instructional module!

What is the TEACH Act?

What is the TEACH Act?

Signed into law in 2002, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act is the product of discussion and negotiation among academic institutions, publishers, library organizations, and Congress. It offers many improvements over previous regulations, specifically sections 110(2) and 112(f) of the U.S. Copyright Act.

  • It is a supplement, not a replacement, for Fair Use
  • It expands the scope of educator's rights to use other's works in distance education, but there are still restrictions
  • It assigns significant responsibility to the institution, so certain conditions must be met before the TEACH Act can be applied
    • must be accredited non-profit institution
    • must have an institutional copyright policy
    • must provide training on the proper use of copyright
  • It assigns significant responsibility to the faculty member as well
    • copyrighted material must be on a password protected site (D2L!)
    • must have reasonable measures in place to prevent students from downloading or copying copyrighted material
    • must include a general copyright statement on your site/portal, for example, you could include in your syllabus:
      • "Some material in the course is protected by copyright and has been included solely for educational purposes. You may not sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of this material to any other person. Where provided to you in electronic format, you may only print from it for your own private study and research. Failure to comply with the terms of this warning may expose you to legal action for copyright infringement."

What's Covered by the TEACH Act?

What is Covered By the TEACH Act?


Allowed Prohibited
Non-dramatic literary works Works marketed primarily for educational use
Non-dramatic musical works Performances given by means of copies "not lawfully made or acquired"
Performances of any work, in "a reasonable and limited portion"
Displays of a work in the amount comparable to a live classroom setting



The Big Question!

Can I upload a DVD to my online course?


Why not?

Short Version:

Because it violates Prohibition 2 above. DVDs and CDs have "technological prevention measures" encoded as part of their data. By copying them you violate Amendment §110(2).

Long Version:

The Copyright Act at §110(1) (face to face teaching exemption) allows for the performance or display of video or film in a classroom where instruction takes place in classroom with enrolled students physically present and the film is related to the curricular goals of the course. The TEACH Act amendment to the Copyright Act, codified at §110(2), permits the performance of a reasonable and limited portion of films in an online classroom. Under the TEACH Act, there is the express limitation on quantity, and an entire film will rarely constitute a reasonable and limited portion. Instructors may also rely upon fair use for showing films in an online course, although showing an entire film online also may not constitute fair use. Finally, the DMCA prohibits the circumvention of technological prevention measures (TPM) on DVDs and other media for the purpose of copying and distributing their content. Therefore, digitizing and streaming an entire DVD is not permissible unless an express exemption permits this. Currently, there is an exemption permitting faculty to circumvent TPM only to make clips of films for use in teaching and research.

Library Interlude

(A Brief Library Note...)

The library provides several streaming video services. They're all licensed for use in your online classes, so stream and embed away!

Here are a few!

TEACH Act Checklist

I Need Help!

The easiest way to determine if your reuse of someone else's material meets the Fair Use standard is to apply the fair use checklist, and here is a handy-dandy link!

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The Final Piece: Creative Commons

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