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TEACH Act - Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (2002)

The TEACH Act is a copyright exemption that covers teaching conducted through digital transmission; it addresses the performance and display of copyrighted materials used in teaching. Even if your class has on ground, face to face sessions, anything you transmit through course delivery systems, such as Angel or Blackboard, would fall under the TEACH Act, unless you choose to use Fair Use as an alternative. The TEACH Act is not a wild card exemption to do anything you want; it comes with limitations. 

Teachers have more privileges in face-to-face teaching situations for the use of copyrighted materials than teachers in online instruction. The TEACH Act attempts to bring the two environments closer together, but the playing fields are still not level.

The TEACH Act does not cover the use of textual materials such as readings.

Provisions of the Act

The Act allows teachers to show the full performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or display the following types of materials (partial list):

  • a sound recording of a poem
  • a sound recording of a piece of literature
  • a recorded symphony
  • still images, photographs (these are considered "displays")
  • still images from subscription databases if allowed by license
  • text if it is something that would normally be "displayed" in a face to face class; not if it is something only to be read by students

Teachers may only display "reasonable and limited portions" of dramatic works. Use only the portions that are necessary to make a point. (Teachers in  face to face classrooms may use the following works in their entirety). The following are examples:

  • dramatic works
  • audio/visual works
  • musicals
  • operas
  • commercial films
  • music videos

Teachers may not transmit or display instructional materials, without permission or licensing, which students are commonly expected to purchase such as:

  • textbooks
  • coursepacks
  • workbooks
  • digital educational work (made for the purpose of performance or display for use in mediated instruction)

Works "produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks" should not be copied, but purchased and used as intended by the publisher.

Obligations of the teacher under the TEACH Act:

    • The performance or display is made by or under the supervision of an instructor.
    • The performance or display is directly related and integral to the class content, not ancillary like Reserves
    • The work is part of systematic mediated instructional activities
    • The "transmission is made solely for and limited to students officially enrolled in the course."
    • Materials that are used for performance or display must be lawfully made and acquired.
    • Instructor must use reasonable controls to prevent copying and retention of the work, those that would "discourage most users." (streaming is suggested for video; thumbnails, watermarks and disabling right click copy function can be used to protect images.)
    • A digital copy may be made from an analog copy when no digital version is available or when the digital version is technologically protected.


                              (2nd example from NCSU)

*LibGuide box information retrieved from UMKC Libraries Copyright, TEACH Act

Some considerations for educational use

Please use these examples as a suggested starting point and be sure to use the Fair Use Evaluator. Courts are not bound by established standards or guidelines, and the Copyright Act contains no such standards. Therefore, conducting your own fair use evaluation may demonstrate due diligence in assessing your needs

Distributing Copies

  • Copies made should not substitute the purchase of books, journals, etc.
  • Always provide a copyright notice on the first page of the copied material. At bare minimum your notice should state: "Notice: This material is subject to the copyright law of the United States."
  • Provide only one copy per student.
  • Copying the works for subsequent semesters requires copyright permission from the publisher.
  • Using Materials Found on the Internet

Always Credit the Source

  • If you are using the information on your personal web page ask permission or simply link to the site
  • If you receive permission to use the material keep a copy for your records

Suggested Limits:

  • Movies: Up to 10% or three minutes, whichever is less
  • Text: Up to 10% or 1,000 words, whichever is less.
    • A single chapter from a book
    • A single article from a journal issue or newspaper
    • A short story, essay, or poem from an individual work
    • A single chart, diagram, graph, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, journal, magazine, or newspaper
  • Music: Up to 10% of an individual copyrighted musical composition. 10% of a copyrighted musical composition on a sound recording. However, no more than 30 seconds may be used without gaining permission from the copyright owner and/or publisher
  • Photos and Illustrations: A photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety, but caution should be exercised when using several images by one artist or photographer.

*LibGuide box information retrieved from Butler University Libraries, 2014.