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Copyright & Fair Use: TEACH Act

This guide provides information concerning copyright in the academic setting.


On November 2nd, 2002, the "Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act" (the TEACH Act), was signed into law by President Bush. The TEACH Act redefines the terms and conditions on which accredited, nonprofit educational institutions throughout the U.S. may use copyright protected materials in distance education, including on websites and by other digital means, without first receiving permission from the copyright holder and without payment of fees. For EMU to be able to fully benefit from the TEACH Act we must provide policies regarding copyright and informational materials regarding copyright and promote compliance with the laws of relating to copyright to our faculty, staff and students. In addition to the general informational materials, the statute further specifies that we must provide notice to students that materials used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection. The TEACH Act does not circumvent specific copyright law protections and doesn’t interfere with fair use guidelines.

TEACH Act, Section 110(2) applies to performance of non dramatic literary or musical work or all reasonable portions of any other works (dramatic works) and the display of works in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in a live classroom setting. These works are okay to use if:

  • the transmission is at the direction or supervision of an instructor as an integral part of systematic mediated instructional activities;
  • the performance or display is directly related to the teaching content of the transmission
  • the transmission is made solely for the students in the class, and
  • the digital transmission is not retained longer than the class session and all further transmissions are prevented.

A performance work would include an audio file of the reading of a poem or speech, a piece of recorded music, a video clip or a portion of a movie or television program, a clip of a dramatic or choreographic work. A display work would include artworks, photographs, or other visual works.

The TEACH Act does not protect unlawfully made works nor works “produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks.”

Graphic created by Herrlich, H. (2021, December 21). Copyright exceptions for teaching: Classroom exceptions & TEACH act. Fordham Library News. Retrieved 11/1/2022 from: