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Copyright and Intellectual Property

Understanding the TEACH Act

In 2002, the TEACH Act (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) was enacted as an amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976. It outlines limits on the use of protected works and provides guidelines for both distance education and face-to-face teaching with an online component. The TEACH Act allows an accredited non-profit educational institution to transmit a performance or display of a copyrighted work to students who are officially enrolled in a course. It does not cover the copying and distribution of textual materials.

Under the TEACH Act, the performance or display must be part of a mediated instructional activity, directed or supervised by an instructor, that is an integral part of a class session. Copies of works that are transmitted must be lawfully made, and the institution may not interfere with or circumvent the anti-piracy technology used by copyright owners. Portions of an entire work (a film, for example) may be used, but an entire work can not be uploaded to any online platform without licensing/permission from the copyright holder. Also, the institution must have technological measures in place to prevent students from retaining works beyond the class session and further distributing them.

Louisiana Sate University has developed the TEACH Act Toolkit to help educators understand and apply these guidelines.