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This is the "Teach Act" page of the "Copyright for Educators" guide.
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Copyright for Educators  

Last Updated: May 23, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Institution Must

  • Have policies in place regarding copyright

  • Make sure educational community is aware of U.S. Copyright Law and policies pertaining to education

  • Provide notice to students about materials in the course being protected by the U.S. Copyright Law

  • Only students in course should be able to access copyrighted materials


Teach Permits

  • Performances of nondramatic literary works;

  • Performances of nondramatic musical works;

  • Performances of any other work, including dramatic works and audiovisual works, but only in "reasonable and limited portions"; and

  • Displays of any work "in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session."



Teach Doesn't Permit

  • Works that are marketed "primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks"
  • Performances or displays given by means of copies "not lawfully made and acquired" under the U.S. Copyright Act, if the educational institution "knew or had reason to believe" that they were not lawfully made and acquired.

Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act

In 2002 Congress enacted the TEACH Act, Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act to allow the use of copyrighted work in distance learning and online work within traditional classrooms. The law requires: the use must be by a non-profit educational institution, requires institutional copyright policies, information regarding copyright must be available to students and faculty, must provide notice to students that materials used may be subject to copyright protection, transmission only to students enrolled in course and no longer than the class session, must apply technological measures that prevent students from engaging in unauthorized use, and copies made for transmitting work are retained and solely used by institution.


The Teach Act

New Roles, Rules and Responsibilities for Academic Institutions 
A Brief Guide to the TEACH Act
Although copyright law generally treats digital and non-digital copyright-protected works in a similar manner, special digital uses, such as online distance learning and course management systems, require special attention. Some of the special copyright requirements of online distance learning are specifically addressed by the TEACH Act.
The TEACH Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the TEACH Act’s qualifying requirements. Its primary purpose is to balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders. The TEACH Act applies to distance education that includes the participation of any enrolled student, on or off campus.
Under the TEACH Act:
• Instructors may use a wider range of works in distance learning environments.
• Students may participate in distance learning sessions from virtually any location.
• Participants enjoy greater latitude when it comes to storing, copying and digitizing materials.
TEACH Act Requirements
In exchange for unprecedented access to copyright-protected material for distance education, the TEACH Act requires that the academic institution meet specific requirements for copyright compliance and education. 
In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH Act 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 and paste disabling, etc.
What the TEACH Act Does Not Allow
The new exemptions under the TEACH Act 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 the TEACH Act does not supersede fair use or existing digital license agreements.
Ultimately, it is up to each academic institution to decide whether to take advantage of the new copyright exemptions under the TEACH Act. This decision should consider both the extent of the institution’s distance education programs and its ability to meet the education, compliance and technological requirements of the TEACH Act.

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