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Copyright and Fair Use

A quick overview of copyright law and fair use that may be helpful for faculty and students.

General Info

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act (2002) expands the criteria for use of copyrighted materials in online and distance education settings by accredited, non-profit educational institutions that meet the TEACH Act's qualifications. The TEACH Act is not just for online faculty or students, but applies to any transmission of materials in an online setting, including materials in Canvas for on campus students. The text of the TEACH Act can be found in Public Law 107-273 (116 Stat. 1757-1922)  (Excerpt of law where Subtitle C appears, starts p. 154). It also appears in section 110(2) of Copyright Act.

Also see, Copyright Best Practices for Course Management Systems (Copyright Clearance Center)

Qualifications to Use Materials in Distance Education Settings

There are 7 qualifications to use materials in Distance Education settings:

  1. The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
  2. The use must be an essential part of instructional activities offered as a part of regular mediated instruction, and initiated by the instructor.
  3. The use must be limited to students officially enrolled in a specific course.
  4. The use must be for material that would be comparatively used in a face-to-face setting.
  5. The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials “typically purchased or acquired by students,” or works developed for display through a digital network.
  6. The institution must have a copyright policy (or policies) and let faculty, staff, and students know about the policies. There must be a statement that lets students know that course content may be covered by copyright.
  7. The institution must provide technological measures that prevents students from accessing content after the course is finished. (From Copyright Clearance Center: "Ensuring compliance through technological means may include user and location authentication through Internet Protocol (IP) checking, content timeouts, print-disabling, cut and paste disabling, etc.")

Does Not Include

The TEACH Act does 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
  • Conversion of materials from analog to digital formats, except when the converted material is used solely for authorized transmissions and when a digital version of a work is unavailable or protected by technological measures

The TEACH Act does not supersede Fair Use, but is used in conjunction with Fair Use, which is also part of copyright law.

Copyright Statement Found on ILL Guide

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that use may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.