Blackwell Library
Holloway Hall

Online Teaching & The Teach Act

Copyright Symbol imageOriginally, section 110 of the 1976 U.S. copyright law sanctioned use of copyrighted materials only in face-to-face teaching activities, including closed circuit television. On November, 2002, the Teach Act (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) brought copyright law into the digital age. This doesn't diminish fair use principles. It is possible to invoke one or the other to use digital materials in teaching. The benefit of the Teach Act, however, is that it offers clear operating guidelines for accredited non-profit educational institutions.

What Institutions Must Do

  • create copyright policies

  • provide copyright information to faculty, students, and relevant staff

  • provide a notice to students that materials used in classes may be subject to copyright protection

  • limit access to copyrighted materials used in classes to enrolled students

  • retain copyrighted materials for the period that students are enrolled

  • not engage in conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technological measures used by copyright owners to prevent such retention or unauthorized further dissemination

  • apply technological measures to prevent students from disseminating works further (experts acknowledge that such technology is not readily available; hence, compliance may mean finding the best means available)

What Educators Must Do

  • direct or supervise the choice of materials to perform or display

  • ensure materials are integral to class sessions

  • ensure materials are related directly to teaching content (teaching, not entertaining)

  • provide a notice to students that materials used in classes may be subject to copyright protection

What Educators Can Do

Presuming materials are lawfully made and acquired, were not developed and sold for distance education courses, and also meet the conditions above, faculty may

  • transmit non-dramatic literary and musical works in their entirety (poetry, readings from a novel, symphonies - YES;) operas, musicals, musical videos, and plays - NO)

  • transmit reasonable, limited portions of other performances

  • transmit the display of any work in an amount comparable to that displayed in the course of a live classroom session (in some cases, entire videos when essential to a course, Example: The Films of John Ford)

  • convert analog copies to digital if the amount converted is comparable to what that may be legally performed or displayed as outlined above and if a digital copy is either unavailable or available but secured by technology that prevents uses that copyright law allows

The Teach Act specifies works should be accessible only for the duration of courses, but it does not specifically rule out their repeated use.

The following Teach Act checklists were developed at North Carolina State University:

Basic -
Expanded -

Information Resources


After carefully evaluating the four fair use factors, faculty may incorporate materials into the university's course management system. Alternatively, the library can provide links to or actual materials in its password protected e-reserve system within theonline catalog. For additional information, contact Mou Chakraborty, Head of Public Services at Blackwell Library:


Blackwell Library and the Fulton School of Liberal Arts are partnering to bring the ArtStor image database to campus. The almost 500,000 images cover women's history, Native American history, Asian art, classical studies, medical drawings, Buddhist cave paintings, architecture, photographs and a wealth of other images supporting most disciplines within a restricted usage environment that balances the rights of content providers with the needs and interests of content users. ArtStor allows

  • students and other users to create their own image folders

  • faculty to create groups of images and add images of their own and make them accessible to students

  • scholars to download and use at no cost high-resolution images for scholarly publications

For more information contact Stephen Ford, Information Literacy Librarian: