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What is the TEACH Act

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) was an amendment to the US Copyright Act in 2002 due to changes in distance education and enhancements in technologies. The TEACH ACT provides exemptions for using copyrighted materials for teaching in distance learning courses at nonprofit educational institutions.

NOTE: the TEACH ACT does not replace or make obsolete fair use or other licensing agreements. Fair use is the preferred source for determining the defense for making copies while the TEACH Act provides a bit more flexibility for digitizing works. Both exemptions should be used together to help weigh whether a copyrighted work can be used without infringement.

As with fair use, there are several criteria and limitations which must be meet in order for copyrighted works to be exempted under  the TEACH Act. These criteria are very specific and include college wide policies and other technological restrictions.

What the TEACH ACT Allows

  • Institution must be accredited and non-profit.
  • 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 (anytime/anywhere) 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.
  • 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

  • Electronic reserves, course packs or inter-library loans.
  • Commercial document delivery.
  • Textbooks or other digital content provided under license from the author, publisher, or other entity
  • Conversion of materials from analog to digital formats, EXCEPT when converted materials is used solely for authorized transmissions and when a digital version of a work is unavailable or protected by technological measures.

TEACH Act Checklist

As with Fair Use Guidelines, there are checklists available for use which can help confirm whether your use falls under the limitations and criteria of the TEACH Act. The following list was created by the University of Texas Libraries, Copyright Crash Course. It is presented here in its entirety with no modifications.

__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 digital distance 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 with technological protections that prevent my using it for the class in the way the statute authorizes

TEACH Act Checklist Document

Creative Commons License
Checklist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.



CopyRight@BC website is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a licensed copyright lawyer if in need of counseling.


Phil Roche
Copyright Librarian

Linda McConnell
Digital Copyright Manager

Email questions to: copyright@brazosport.edu

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