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NWACC Library

A Short Course in Copyright for NWACC Faculty

Need-to-Know & Best Practices

Understand the TEACH Act

The “Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act,” commonly known as the “TEACH Act,” was enacted by Congress on October 4, 2002. It is a full revision of Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act. Its provisions enable educators to use copyrighted materials for distance education, with certain restrictions.

The Teach Act was created as a part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to address the evolution of digital information and to support online learning. Part of that is extending the classroom to the digital environment. And most importantly, for a use to be allowed it does not need to meet both the factors of Fair Use and the TEACH Act, just one or the other.

Follow the TEACH Act Criteria

ALLOWED use if all criteria are met

  •  “performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work,”
  • “performance of . . . reasonable and limited portions of any other work,” or
  • “display of a work in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.”


  • any “work produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks” or
  • uses of any “copy or phonorecord that is not lawfully made and acquired under this title” (if the institution knows or should know it was not lawfully made or acquired).
  • Electronic reserves, coursepacks (electronic or paper) or interlibrary loan (ILL).
  • Commercial document delivery
  • Textbooks or other digital content provided under license from the author, publisher, aggregator or other entity.
    Conversion of materials from analog to digital formats, except when the converted material is used solely for authorized transmissions and when a digital version of a work is unavailable or protected by technological measures.

An overly simplistic interpretation is if you would have used the copyrighted work in a traditional classroom in front of students as part of a lesson, it can probably be done under the TEACH Act.