The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act exemption (Section 110(2) of U.S. Copyright Law) applies to virtual instruction.  The basic premise behind the TEACH Act is to allow online instructional activities that are comparable to what would be offered in a face-to-face classroom. This exemption allows an instructor to virtually perform or display certain works without permission. The TEACH Act does not allow instructors to share textbooks or other materials typically purchased or acquired by students.

The TEACH Act imposes several requirements on instructors and their institutions, which fall into four general areas.

1. Type and amount of work used 

Things that can be performed or displayed online under the TEACH exception include:

  • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works
  • Performances of other works only in “limited and reasonable portions”
    • For example, musicals, plays, and feature films
  • Displays of works, but only in an amount comparable to what you would display in a face-to-face classroom setting
    • For example, images of artworks and photographs

Things that cannot be performed or displayed under the TEACH Act exemption:

  • Materials that are specifically marketed “primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks.”
    • For example, materials shared through Emory’s online databases
  • Illegal copies of materials

2. Instructor responsibilities 

The performance or display must be:

  • Made, directed, or supervised by the instructor
  • An integral part of a class session offered as “part of the systematic mediated instructional activities” of the educational institution
  • Directly related to the teaching content

3. Institutional responsibilities 

The institution must:

  • Be an accredited nonprofit educational institution or government body
  • Institute policies regarding copyright
  • Provide informational materials to faculty, students, and staff to promote compliance with U.S. copyright laws
  • Notify students that instructional materials may be subject to copyright protection
  • Transmit the copyrighted content only to students enrolled in the course

4. Information technology responsibilities 

Technological measures must be taken to:

  • Make the content accessible to students only for the class session
  • Prevent the work from being shared with others
    • For example, streaming a portion of the video rather than providing a downloadable video file.

You must meet all of these requirements in order to apply the TEACH Act exemption. If your use does not meet these requirements, you may still be able to rely on fair use. Find out how to conduct a fair use analysis.

NOTICE FOR EMORY UNIVERSITY INSTRUCTORS: The TEACH Act only covers performance and display of copyrighted works in the online environment. If you’d like to make copyrighted works available for your students to download, please work through Emory’s Course Reserves system.