TEACH Act

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH)

The Law

U.S. Copyright Law Section 110 (1, 2): Exemption of Certain Performances and Displays

In the Course of a Transmission: Section 110 (2) (TEACH Act)

TEACH allows the digital transmission of performances and displays of copyrighted works, without having to obtain prior permission from the copyright owner, as part of synchronous or asynchronous distance education applications if the below requirements are met. Some have criticized the TEACH Act for being too stringent and restrictive. If you find that you cannot comply with all of the TEACH requirements you may also consider Fair Use for your proposed use of copyrighted materials in an online course. Please see our Fair Use page for more information.

WHO

  1. Accredited, nonprofit educational institutions
  2. Controlled by or under the actual supervision of the instructor

WHAT

  1. Performances of nondramatic literary works or musical works
  2. Performances of reasonable portions of any other work, or
  3. Displays of any other work in an amount comparable to that typically displayed in a live classroom setting

WHEN

  1. As an integral part of a class session, and
  2. As part of systematic mediated instructional activities, and
  3. Directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content

HOW

Transmission made solely for and reception limited to (as technologically feasible) students enrolled in the course, and technological measures that reasonably prevent:

  1. Retention in accessible form for a class session, and
  2. Unauthorized further dissemination in accessible form, and
  3. No interference with copyright holder’s technological measures that prevent such retention and dissemination

BUT NOT

  1. Digital educational works (Works produced or marketed primarily for performance/display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks) or
  2. Unlawful copies (copies you know or reasonably should know were not lawfully made or acquired)

Converting Analog to Digital

Converting analog to digital is permissible when

  1. No digital version is available to the institution, or
  2. The available digital version is technologically protected to prevent TEACH uses

Institutional Requirements

  1. Disseminate copyright policies
  2. Provide accurate information about copyright
  3. Promote copyright compliance
  4. Provide notice to students that course materials may be protected by copyright

Instructor Requirements

Instructors who want to incorporate works into digital transmissions for instructional purposes applying TEACH should:

  1. Avoid the use of commercial works that are sold or licensed for purposes of delivery of digital content for distance education purposes.
  2. Avoid the use of pirated works or works where the instructor otherwise has reason to know the copy was not lawfully made.
  3. Generally, limit the use of works to an amount and duration comparable to what would be displayed or performed in a physical classroom setting. In other words, TEACH does not authorize the digital transmission of textbooks or coursepacks to students.
  4. Supervise the digital performance or display, make it an integral part of a class session, and make it part of a systematic mediated instructional activity. In other words, the faculty should interactively use the copyrighted work as part of a class assignment in the distance education course. It should not be an entertainment add-on or passive background/optional reading.
  5. Use tools provided by the university to limit access to the works to students enrolled in the course, to prevent downstream copying by those students, and to prevent the students from retaining the works for longer than a “class session.”
  6. Notify the students that the works may be subject to copyright protection and that they may not violate the legal rights of the copyright holder.

Tools for Using the TEACH Act

Basic Checklist for Implementing the TEACH Act and Distance Education (PDF), North Carolina State University, 2003
TEACH Act Online Tool – This tool is an interactive, online tool designed to help educators check to see if their use is covered by either the “face-to-face” teaching exemption or the TEACH Act, Michael Brewer, American Library Association (ALA), 2008
TEACH Act Overview and Checklist (PDF), Kenneth Crews, Columbia University, 2010

Other TEACH Resources

Congressional Research Service Report for Congress on the TEACH Act (PDF), American Law Division, 2006
Distance Education and the TEACH Act, American Library Association
TEACH Act Toolkit, LSU Libraries
TEACH Act Copyright Crash Course, Georgia Harper, University of Texas