Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2001

The TEACH Act provides a legal means for an instructor to perform or display copyrighted material delivered by digital transmission in an on-campus or distance education setting, but only under certain conditions.

These conditions are as follows:

  1. Amount of the work(s) performed or displayed should only equal that which would typically be used in a comparable face-to-face classroom session;
  2. Instruction is offered by an accredited nonprofit educational institution;
  3. Performance or display of the copyrighted material is made by, at the direction of, or under the supervision of the instructor as an integral part of a mediated class session (This would not include material assigned for reading or viewing outside of the class session (homework) such as electronic reserve materials.  It may be more helpful to evaluate reserves use based on Fair Use.This requirement does not necessarily exclude asynchronous instructional activities if these activities can be interpreted as providing instructional supervision equivalent to what would happen in a face-to-face classroom.1;
  4. Material is presented only to students officially enrolled in the course;
  5. Institution making the transmission needs to do the following:
    1. Take reasonable technical measures to prevent students from retaining the work for longer than the class session and from distributing the work to others;
    2. Retain the material for no longer than is reasonably necessary to facilitate the transmissions for its intended educational purpose;
    3. Refrain from conduct that would circumvent technical measures used by copyright owners to prevent end user retention or unauthorized distribution.
    4. Provides resources that would inform and promote faculty, student, and staff compliance with copyright law including notices to students that materials used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection.

Suggested text:

This performance is copyrighted material and is being displayed under the TEACH Act.  Viewing is restricted to students enrolled in this course.  The material is not be retained or further distributed.

The materials on this course site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course and should not be retained or further distributed.

The TEACH Act also allows one to convert portions of analog works that have been authorized for performance or display (i.e. in keeping with the restrictions noted above) into digital formats when no digital version of the work is available to the institution for purchase or when the available digital version cannot be used because of technological protections.

The TEACH Act does not allow for the unauthorized (e.g. without proper licensing or permission from the copyright holder) digital transmission of works that are specifically produced or marketed for educational use (e.g. textbooks, course packs, or other material in formats which are intended by the publisher to be purchased or acquired by the students).  Neither does it allow for the transmission of copies of works that are not lawfully acquired or made.

If the TEACH Act does not appear to reasonably meet your instructional needs, consider evaluating your instructional use of copyrighted material under Fair Use.


* Unless otherwise specified, the following text is a brief summary of the TEACH Act of 2001.  The full text of the act can be found at

1Gretchen McCord, J.D., M.S.I.S. Applying Copyright in Online Learning Environments. Webinar. American Library Association. March 9, 2016.