The TEACH Act is a copyright exemption that covers teaching conducted through digital transmission. It addresses performance and display of copyrighted materials used in teaching. Even if your class has on ground, face-to-face sessions, anything you transmit through course delivery systems, such as Blackboard, would fall under the TEACH Act, unless you choose to use Fair Use as an alternative exemption. The TEACH Act is not a wild card exemption to do anything you want; it comes with limitations.
Teachers have more privileges in face-to-face teaching situations for the use of copyrighted materials than teachers in online instruction. The TEACH Act attempts to bring the two environments closer together, but the playing fields are still not level.
The TEACH Act does not cover the use of textual materials such as readings.
Provisions of the Act
The Act allows teachers to show the full performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or display the following types of materials:
Teachers may only display "reasonable and limited portions" of dramatic works. Use only the portions that are necessary to make a point. (Teachers in face-to-face classrooms may use the following works in their entirety):
Teachers may not transmit or display instructional materials without permission or licensing which students are commonly expected to purchase, such as:
Works "produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks" should not be copied, but purchased and used as intended by the publisher.
1. Must I use the TEACH Act when I teach online?
No, you can choose to teach under the TEACH Act, which carries more requirements, or use Fair Use, which carries more risk.
2. Can I digitize an analog video (i.e. VHS) to show it to my distance education class?
Yes, in an amount limited to what is necessary for the class, if:
3. Can I reuse my materials later in the semester for the same class?
Yes, you can re-show or redisplay the content to support your curriculum later in the semester, even if you used it earlier.
4. Can I reuse my teaching materials in subsequent semesters in my online class?
If materials are integral to the course content and are used in performance or display, the materials may be reused without permission. Copies of these items must be made from a legally acquired copy of the work. Supplementary or ancillary materials and readings may require permission or royalty payments.
5. Can I show a YouTube video to my distance education class?
The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link to it. However, it is advisable not to show a YouTube video that contains infringing material.
6. Does the Teach Act apply just to credit courses?
No, it can be used with non-credit courses also.
7. I am a film studies/media studies teacher; can I override technological protection measures (TPMs) to create clips of videos to show my class? Can any faculty member override TPMS to make video clips?
The latest 2012 DMCA exemptions lay out a series of provisions for all faculty of any department. The following is a summary, but please see the DMCA tab for more complete details. Most videos today are protected by content scrambling systems (CSS) or some kind of technological protection measures (TPMs) which may not legally be circumvented. The 2012 DMCA exemptions, however, permit faculty and students requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts to circumvent protection measures to make short portions available for viewing. The exemption applies only to motion pictures on DVD or from online distribution services, (not to Blu-ray) and the circumvention is allowed only when “necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software …are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment.” If very high quality copy is not required for the criticism or comment, the law permits the use of screen capture software. Faculty might try products like Camtasia, Jing, and Screencast-o-matic.
Again, the TEACH Act only permits the showing of limited portions for dramatic works. Consider requiring students to get their own subscriptions to online video services if you will be using a lot of video.
Permission or licensing may be the only available option to show more than the law allows.
8. Who can help me with copyright permissions?
Please contact Danielle Dion for additional assistance.
Distance Education and the TEACH Act
The American Library Association
The TEACH Act and some Frequently Asked Questions
The American Library Association
TEACH Act Toolkit
Peggy E. Hoon, North Carolina State University