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Copyright Resources

This page contains resources suggested by the Copyright Awareness Team

A Bit of Background

Some of the most instrumental copyright policies are the TEACH Act of 2002, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 and the Face-to-Face Exception of 1996.  


The TEACH Act, or the Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act, was passed by Congress in November 2002.  It updates the Face-to-Face exception and provides guidance on educators' rights to use copyrighted materials in online courses.

In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH Act exemptions, the following criteria must be met:

• The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
• The use must be part of mediated instructional activities.
• The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
• The use must either be for ‘live’ or asynchronous class sessions.
• The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, or materials “typically purchased or acquired by students” 
The new exemptions under the TEACH Act specifically do not extend to:
• Electronic reserves, coursepacks (electronic or paper) or interlibrary loan (ILL)
• Commercial document delivery
• Textbooks or other digital content provided under license from the author, publisher, aggregator or other entity

Here are a few resources for you to learn more about the TEACH Act.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

This act, passed in 1998 and incorporated in 2000, provides guidance for digital transmissions.  Some provisions include:

 - Prohibits the "circumvention" of any effective "technological protection measure" (e.g., a password or form of encryption) used by a copyright holder to restrict access to its material

 - Exempts any online service provider or carrier of digital information (including libraries) from copyright liability because of the content of a transmission made by a user of the provider's or carrier's system (e.g., the user of a library computer system)

Face-to-Face Exemption Law

There is a specific exception to copyright protection for materials that facilitate face-to-face teaching.  

17 U.S.C. Section 110 provides that the following is not a violation of copyright:  "performance or display of 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...."

This exception gives permission for instructors to show a lawfully obtained movie or image (including pages from books) for teaching purposes in a live, face-to-face classroom with enrolled students.  

This exception is from 1976.  It does not cover:

  •  online teaching.  However, there is another provision of the Copyright Act that can apply to online teaching (The TEACH Act; see above).
  •  copying or distributing a printed work. For guidance in this area, see the fair use section of this guide.

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