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Copyright in the Classroom

TEACH Act - Compliance Checklist

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (“TEACH”) Act copyright exemptions are available to Ball State University because it is a nonprofit, accredited educational institution that has policies on the use of copyright materials and provides information to faculty, staff and students regarding the same.

The TEACH Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted works in distance education without obtaining permission or a license from the copyright owner under certain circumstances if the below checklist of compliance conditions are satisfied.


Materials Eligible for TEACH Act Exemptions

Permission from the copyright owner is NOT required for the following materials IF all the TEACH Act compliance conditions are satisfied:

  • Up to entire performances of nondramatic literary or musical works.

  •  Reasonable and limited portions 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.

Materials NOT Eligible for TEACH Act Exemptions

The following types of works are NOT eligible for digital transmission under the TEACH Act exemption. If any of the following apply, use of the work is not exempt under the TEACH Act.

  • Commercially marketed educational materials (e.g., McGraw-Hill workbooks).

  • Materials that I know, or have reason to believe, were unlawfully made or obtained.

  •  Entire textbooks, course packs, and similar materials typically purchased individually by students for independent review outside of class.

Other Options
  • If your proposed use does not meet all the conditions listed under the compliance checklist, consider alternative options such as fair use.
  • If fair use does not apply, seek permission or obtain a license from the copyright owner prior to use of the materials.
  •  If permission or licensing is not available, consider using other material.


1. Can you disseminate videos or DVDs that the University has purchased?

It depends. First, “dissemination” is not defined by the Act. If the question is whether physical copies can be loaned or rented, the answer is yes under the first sale doctrine of copyright law, unless the University has made any agreements to the contrary. Notwithstanding the first sale doctrine, you are still charged with reading any license or purchase agreement associated with the video.

If, however, the video or DVD was produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities (see Terms III (k) on page 9) transmitted via digital networks (i.e., digital educational materials or materials available for commercial purposes), or a performance or display was not lawfully obtained or acquired, then transmission of the like would not fall under the Act.

The intention with this exception to the rule is to protect the market for online educational materials, thereby preventing the incentive to create, modify, or further distribute materials of the like. 

For example, copyrighted PowerPoints that are marketed primarily for mediated instructional activities of an online education course available for individual purchase cannot be transmitted because it violates the exception to the rule, unless an agreement exists otherwise, or the University has obtained permission or a license.

2. Does the institution’s copyright policy specifically need to address the TEACH Act?

No. The TEACH Act policy mandate is as follows:

The transmitting institution must institute policies regarding copyright and provide informational materials to faculty, students, and relevant staff members that accurately describe, and promote compliance with, the laws of the United States relating to copyright.

Thus, the TEACH Act itself does not require an institution's copyright policy to specifically address the Act because it is just the new section 110(2) of the Copyright Act.

Click here to access the University’s current Intellectual Property Policy.

3. What specific language should be used in the copyright notice?

Though the Act does not provide specific language to be used for the copyright notice, the following will suffice:


4. Can you provide examples of what performances or displays would be an integral part of the class session offered as mediated instructional activity?

Scenario 1

In a Shakespeare class, the professor is showing video clips of Macbeth to discuss the Shakespearian concepts displayed in the film that are on topic with the class session.

This is permitted so long as the professor considers Macbeth an integral part of the class session and it is offered under the control or actual supervision of the professor, or in a manner analogous to performance and displays in live classroom settings.

Scenario 2

The professor shows the entirety of the film My Cousin Vinny in a math class.

This is not permitted because the display is not limited to “reasonable and limited portions,” nor is My Cousin Vinny an integral part of a math class.

5. Do “supplemental materials” fall outside the realm of the TEACH Act?

Yes. The Act provides that the performance or display of works must “be directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission.” The Senate Report further provides that this is a test of relevance and materiality that connects the copyrighted work to the curriculum. The portion performed or displayed cannot be for the mere entertainment of the students, or as unrelated background material.

6. Does the TEACH Act apply to text?

Yes, but only in amounts that would typically be displayed in a live classroom setting.

7. If a professor would normally show an entire video in a class session, would the entire film be considered a “reasonable portion”?

Probably not. Transmission of an entire audiovisual work is generally never permitted under Section 110(2).

8. Does the TEACH Act apply to face-to-face class sessions?

Yes. Section 110(1) provides that it is not copyright infringement to perform or display a work by instructors or pupils “in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction,” unless the work was given by means not lawfully made under the title, and that person knew or had reason to believe it was not lawfully made.

9. How is an “officially enrolled student” defined?

There is no definition of “officially enrolled” in the TEACH Act statutory language or the legislative reports. Each institution should determine its own definition of this term. “Officially enrolled” can mean that the student is listed on the official class roll maintained by the institution's department of registration and records and actively complying with all course requirements.

Additionally, for the purposes of the TEACH Act, it can include other institutionally offered courses, such as online library instruction, training, and continuing education courses where the enrollment list is maintained in a department other than university registration and records.

10. Can you define “distance education”?

In general, distance education is considered a form of education in which courses are delivered via the internet or other forms of digital technologies that may evolve from the internet, without face-to-face interaction between students and professors/instructors.

Having said that, the TEACH Act, though often associated with distance education activities, is not limited to “distance education,” nor does it even use the phrase itself in the text. Rather, the TEACH Act modifies Section 110(2) of the copyright act which pertains to transmissions of performances and displays of copyrighted works.

To transmit a performance or display is to communicate it by any device or process whereby images or sounds are received beyond the place from which they are sent. Therefore, any time the performance or display of a copyrighted work is transmitted, TEACH is potentially implicated. This would include “distance education courses,” “traditional” courses with an online component, and so forth.

11. Can I provide links to outside sources?

Yes. Linking to an outside source is permitted without permission of the creator. By linking to a source, you have not made a copy of the original work or falsely claimed that the work is your own, so this is not a copyright violation.

TEACH Act - Additional Resources

For a more in-depth explanation of the terms and concepts applicable to the TEACH Act, please review the full TEACH Act Toolkit Guide.

Original text of the TEACH Act and the Senate Report regarding the proposed legislation

Ball State University’s current Intellectual Property Policy

America Library Association—Copyright: Distance Education and the TEACH Act

Additional checklist resources:

For a quick helpful reference, Stanislaus California State University, created a few instructional scenarios to assess the applicability of the Act.