Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright: TEACH Act

Trying to organize a lesson plan and not sure what copyright allows you to use?

What is the TEACH Act?

Passed in 2002, the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002) was created to provide parameters for using digital materials in the classroom.  With the advent of online instruction there was a significant amount of debate about how information was transmitted and whether it fell under different guidelines than print materials.  The TEACH Act allows for copyrighted works to be digitally transmitted to students without prior permission from the copyright holder.  This is a good thing, however this amendments is limited in scope concerning the specific requirements.

If it is limited, why bother to use it?

  • It provides a "fall net" when Fair Use doesn't apply.
  • It encourages your institution and professors  to update their policies and to be educated about what they can and cannot do in the classroom.
  • To be a more educated institution, when you know what to do you can be a better advocate.
  • The Digitial Millennium Copyright Act is ambiguous at best, for materials use in the classroom TEACH provides better options for educators.


Frankel, James. The Teacher's Guide to Music, Media, and Copyright Law. New York: Hal Leonard, 2009. 61-62. Print.

Russell, Carrie, and Dwayne K. Buttler. Complete Copyright: an Everyday Guide for Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004. 47-62. Print.


TEACH only applies if the following qualifications are present:

  • The institution is a nonprofit, accredited institution or government agency.
  • The institution recognizes and provides clear documentation about rights and policies.
  • Only students in the class have access to materials (through online courseware or login pages).
  • If videos students should not have the ability to download, only to view materials.
  • The materials should be stored on a secure server and only posted during the timeframe when needed.

If these conditions are met, than the professor can post:

  • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works (however they cannot be uploaded in their entirety).
  • These clips must be "reasonable and limited" clips.
  • Displays of other materials (images, short stories, articles) should be short enough to occur in a normal class setting.

Faculty should post Copyright Notices whereever possible to warn students against reproduction.  Please ask your department or the Provost for the offical Cairn University text.