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Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act)

Distance Learning and the TEACH Act

The TEACH Act extends the Face-to-Face Teaching exemption to distance learning courses in a limited way.  The exemption applies only to online courses restricted to registered students, and so may be applicable for courses that incorporate an online component.  This exemption does not apply to iTunes U or to MOOCs (e.g. Coursera, NovoEd, Lagunita), which are open to students outside of the college, and faculty preparing such courses will need to rely on the fair use exemption or pay for distribution rights.  

When the TEACH Act does apply, it allows the instructor to transmit performances of entire non-dramatic works and reasonable and limited portions of any other audiovisual work without obtaining permission.  For the act to apply, the performance or display must be:

  1. A regular part of the mediated instructional activity;
  2. Made by, at the direction of, or under the supervision of the instructor; and
  3. Directly related and of material assistance to the content of the course.

Further, the following technological restraints must be in effect:

  1. The content must be accessible only to those students who are enrolled in the course;
  2. The content must be accessible only for the duration of a class session;
  3. To the extent technologically possible, the content must be protected from further distribution (“downstream-controlled”); and
  4. To the extent technologically possible, the content must not be subject to retention by students
  5. All material displayed must contain the following notice:

The materials on this course website 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.  The materials on this course website may be protected by copyright; any further use of this material may be in violation of federal copyright law.

Georgia Harper at the University of Texas has produced an excellent checklist ( to help you determine if your use qualifies under the TEACH Act.

  • It is easier to satisfy the “technical restraints” described in the TEACH Act if you use a learning management system such as Blackboard or Canvas to deliver your courses since they have built-in functionalities that enable compliance with the TEACH Act’s technical requirements.

Source: Standford Library


More on TEACH Act

The “Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act,” commonly known as the “TEACH Act,” was enacted by Congress on October 4, 2002. It is a full revision of Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act. Its provisions enable educators to use copyrighted materials for distance education, with certain restrictions.

Source: American Libraries Association Copyright for Libraries: TEACH Act

TEACH Act Checklist

TEACH Act Checklist

Use this handy checklist to see if you are ready to use the TEACH Act

__ My institution is a nonprofit accredited educational institution or a government agency

__ It has a policy on the use of copyrighted materials

__ It provides accurate information to faculty, students, and staff about copyright

__ Its systems will not interfere with technological controls within the materials I want to use

__ The materials I want to use are specifically for students in my class

__ Only those students will have access to the materials

__ The materials will be provided at my direction during the relevant lesson

__ The materials are directly related and of material assistance to my teaching content

__ My class is part of the regular offerings of my institution

__ I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright

__ I will use technology that reasonably limits the students' ability to retain or further distribute the materials

__ I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of the class session

__ I will store the materials on a secure server and transmit them only as permitted by this law

__ I will not make copies other than the one I need to make the transmission

__ The materials are of the proper type and amount the law authorizes

  • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works
  • Reasonable and limited parts of a dramatic literary, musical, or audiovisual work
  • Displays of other works, such as images, in amounts similar to typical displays in face-to-face teaching

__ The materials are not among those the law specifically excludes from its coverage:

  • Materials specifically marketed for classroom use for online education
  • Copies I know or should know are illegal
  • Textbooks, coursepacks, electronic reserves, and similar materials typically purchased individually by the students for independent review outside the classroom or class session

__ If I am using an analog original, I checked before digitizing it to be sure:

  • I copied only the amount that I am authorized to transmit
  • There is no digital copy of the work available except one with technological protections that prevent my using it for the class in the way the statute authorizes

Source: University of Texas Libraries

TEACH Act Checklist document