The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002) (Section 110(2)) allows educators to perform or display copyrighted works in distance education environments. If you would like to show a video or display an image during your online class, you may want to consider whether that use is allowable under the TEACH Act.

Implementing TEACH can be difficult because of its complexity and the many detailed requirements for instructors, technologists, and institutions. The University of Minnesota is in the process of satisfying TEACH Act requirements so that its provisions may be available to the University community.

Benefits of the TEACH Act

  • Performances and displays of nearly all types of copyrighted works
  • Transmission of digital materials to students at distant education locations
  • Storage of copyrighted content for brief periods of time, such as that which occurs in the process of transmitting digital content
  • Creating digital versions of print or analog works

Requirements of the TEACH Act
In order to take advantage of these benefits, instructors and institutions must meet certain policy requirements specified by the TEACH Act. Reasonable measures to assure that only enrolled students will have access to materials during the course of instruction must be in place before TEACH exemptions can be made. Below is a list of requirements:

  • The teaching must occur at an accredited, nonprofit educational institution.
  • Only lawfully acquired copies may be used.
  • Use is limited to performances and displays. The TEACH Act does not apply to materials that are for students' independent use and retention, such as textbooks or readings.
  • Use of materials must be within the context of "mediated instructional activities" analogous to the activities of a face-to-face class session.
  • The materials to be used should not include those primarily marketed for the purposes of distance education (i.e. an electronic textbook or a multimedia tutorial).
  • Only those students enrolled in the class should have access to the material.
  • Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent students from distributing the material after viewing it.
  • If a digital version of the work is already available, then an analog copy cannot be converted for educational use.
  • Students must be informed that the materials they access are protected by copyright.
  • The educational institution must have a policy on the use of copyrighted materials and provide informative resources for faculty advising them on their rights.

The requirements for complying with the TEACH Act are numerous and onerous. As opportunities for applying the TEACH Act are limited in scope, keep in mind that you may also consider to fair use when using copyrighted works online and in distance education settings.

TEACH Act Resources
"Copyright Law and Distance Education:
Overview of the TEACH Act"
by Kenneth Crews, updated 2010 (PDF)
Additional up-to-date (2010-2011) context from Columbia University
"Balancing Copyright Concerns: The TEACH Act of 2001," by Laura Gasaway, Educause Review. Nov/Dec 2001 (PDF)
"Slow Start for Long-Awaited Easing of Copyright Restriction," Chronicle of Higher Education. March 2003
Peggy Hoon's TEACH Toolkit at UNC Charlotte.
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This web site presents information about copyright law. The University Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.