Guidelines: the TEACH Act


The Technology, Educational and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) passed in 2002 is a revision to the section of copyright law that deals with the performance and display of others' works in distance education settings. It was intended to bring the distance education rules relating to the performance, showing and display of copyrighted works more into line with the rules for face-to-face classroom instruction. Although the TEACH Act provides some expanded opportunities for educators in distance education settings, restrictions still abound and many educators find themselves relying on the more established "fair use" rules to guide them in their decisions about when it is appropriate to use another's work.

For more information, see the Guidelines for the Performance of Copyrighted Works in the Classroom, Distance Education and Public Settings and Frequently Asked Questions about the TEACH Act.

The TEACH Act and the Performance of Copyrighted Works in the Classroom, Distance Education and Public Settings

Transmission of Copyrighted Works (Distance Education): Educators at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities' accredited non-profit colleges and universities may also show, display or perform others' work in distance education settings, just not to the same extent as in face-to-face classroom settings. The amount and type of work that may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted in a distance education setting are dictated by a recent revision to copyright law called the TEACH Act.

  • Amount and Type of Work: Pursuant to the TEACH Act, the following types of work may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted:
    1. the performance of a non-dramatic literary work;
    2. the performance of a non-dramatic musical work;
    3. reasonable and limited portions of other works (such as films, videos or dramatic musical works like opera, musicals and music videos); and
    4. other copyrighted works (such as still images) as long as the display of such works is in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.
  • Conditions Governing the Broadcast or Transmission of Copyrighted Works: Broadcasting or otherwise transmitting the above described works is subject to the following conditions, all of which must be complied with in order to stay within the boundaries of the TEACH Act:
    1. The performance or display is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the "systematic mediated instructional activities" of the college or university. "Systematic mediated instructional activities" refers to the activities educators would engage in during the course of actual class time instruction, as opposed to activities educators might assign as part of the students' work outside of class;
    2. The performance or display is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission;
    3. The transmission is made solely for students officially enrolled in the course and, to the extent technologically feasible, is limited to such students; and
    4. The transmitted material is not material specifically marketed for classroom use for digital distance education; has been lawfully made or acquired; and is not the type of material typically purchased by students (such as textbooks or coursepacks) for their review outside the classroom or class session.

See also Classroom and Public performances of copyrighted materials