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Portland State University Copyright Guide: TEACH Act & Checklists

The TEACH Act

The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002) (Section 110 (2) of the Copyright Act) was added to the copyright law to allow educators to perform or display portions of copyrighted works in online learning environments.  

The TEACH Act allows (with significant limitations):

-Performances (generally only portions of a work) and displays of nearly all types of copyrighted works
-Transmission of digital materials to students in online courses
-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 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.
-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. Many of the more technical requirements (e.g. limiting access to students enrolled in the specific course, preventing downloads) are handled via D2L. As opportunities for applying the TEACH Act are limited in scope, keep in mind that you may also consider fair use when using copyrighted works online and in distance education settings.

(adapted from Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries, Copyright Services (https://www.lib.umn.edu/copyright/teach-act)

TEACH Act Checklist