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Copyright & Fair Use


The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, at section 110(2) of the Copyright Act,, provides exceptions to copyright protection for accredited, non-profit institutions using copyrighted material in distance education activities.  For example, the Act allows for freer use of materials in conjunction with learning management systems.  However, the Act also requires strict compliance by the institution, instructors, and institution's IT units before more expansive use of copyrighted materials is permitted.  Thus, the fair use guidelines often are relied upon instead, to support various uses of copyrighted work.

The T.E.A.C.H. Act


The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) specifically applies to distance education or online teaching. It provides an exception to the rights of the creator of a work if certain requirements are met. It is more restrictive than the face-to-face teaching exemption.  If you or the works you want to use do not meet the criteria listed below, you may still be able to use them if you can make a Fair Use argument.

Instructors are responsible for copyright compliance

Consider if:

  • The course is offered by an accredited, non-profit educational institutional or governmental body (includes UO)
  • There is an institutional policy that addresses the use of copyrighted materials and educational resources are provided that describe copyright rights and responsibilities
  • The institution has made reasonable efforts to prevent retention of the works for longer than the course session
  • The institution has made reasonable efforts to prevent unauthorized dissemination of works by course participants

And for each work you want to use you must comply with the following:

  • The work must be a lawfully acquired copy
  • The work must be directly related to the teaching content
  • The work must be an “integral part of the class session offered as a regular part of the systematic, mediated instructional activities”
  • A notice must accompany the work notifying students that it may be protected by copyright
  • An entire work can be made available only if it is a non-dramatic literary or audiovisual work
  • Only "reasonable and limited" portions of the work can be made available if it is a dramatic literary or audiovisual work
  • The amount of the work displayed must be comparable to that which is used in face-to-face teaching
  • The work must only be available to course participants for the period of the relevant instructional module
  • The work must only be available to students who are enrolled in the course
  • The work was not created or marketed for distance education
  • The work is not a textbook, course pack, or other commercial educational work
  • There is no reasonably priced digital version of the work available

Further resources: