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Copyright Guide

Legal Disclaimer

This web guide presents general information about copyright law for educational purposes. The library makes every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but does not offer it as legal counsel or advice. Consult the services of a licensed attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.

Contact Information: If you have questions, please contact Andrea Klyn.


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002 (TEACH Act), provides rights for the performance and display of copyrighted works in distance education, including on websites and by other digital means. However, there are a number of additional restrictions and requirements.

Keep in mind that the TEACH Act authorizes are a small subset of the uses of electronic resources educators may wish to make. It only covers in class performances and displays, not, for example, digital delivery of supplemental reading, viewing, or listening materials. For those activities, as well as many others, rely on fair use.



TEACH Act Checklist

Determining Eligibility for Teach Act Exemption

Ineligible for TEACH Act Exemption:

  • Commercially marketed educational materials
  • Materials unlawfully made or obtained
  • Textbooks, coursepacks and similar materials purchased by students for independent review outside of class


Eligible for TEACH Act Exemption:

  • Entire performances of non-dramatic literary or musical works
  • Reasonable and limited parts of dramatic literary, musical, or audiovisual works
  • Displays of other works in an amount comparable to that typically displayed in a face-to-face classroom setting

Requirements for TEACH Act Exemption

All conditions must apply for the TEACH Act exemption.

  • 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.