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Dahlgren Memorial Library

Copyright for Online or Virtual Classroom


The Technology, Education, And Copyright Harmonization Act established in 2002, was meant as a compromise between maximum protection and liberal rights of use. "It focuses on distance education, or the understanding of distance education as it was in 2002 and involves performances and displays of works in a manner similar to in-classroom education" (Crews, Copyright for Librarians and Educators, 83). 

This is a law that is much bigger than just a single instructor or classroom but involves the entire institution as it requires the presence of institutional copyright policies, the distribution of copyright information to the educational community, as well as implementing technological controls to limit works used (Crews). 

The TEACH act can only apply to a government agency or an accredited nonprofit educational institution 

The various TEACH act policies can be grouped into three categories:

  1. Institutional and policy Requirements
  2. Technology Requirements
  3. Instructional planning requirements

Institutional and Policy Requirements

  • There must be an institutional policy or group of policies regarding copyright easily available and distributed to educators
  • The institution must provide information materials regarding copyright such as resource guides or brochures to both students and instructors.
  • Institution must not engage in activities that would decrypt or otherwise interfere with measures already employed by copyright holder to prevent retention 

Technology Requirements

  • Instructors must do their best to limit the material usage to only those students enrolled in the course at the present time 
  • Technology must prevent work from being used beyond the class "session". There is no explicit information regarding a class session, however it is assumed a session would be for a "finite" period of time (Crews, 86)
  • In the case of digital transmission of work, the institution must apply technology that will prevent students from downloading, saving, or otherwise create multiple copies or retainable formats (Crews, 86)

Instructional Requirements: 

  • Must use passwords, watermarking or encryption on disseminated works
  • Label works as protected and provide notice of copyright
  • Interference with technological control measures violate both TEACH act as well as the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA (discussed below)

Instructor oversight:

An instructor seeking to use materials under the protection of TEACH must adhere to the following requirements (Crews):

  • Performance or display must be made at direction or supervision of instructor 
  • Materials transmitted need to be integral part of the lesson 
  • Cannot be materials specifically created for the educational market (Copyright Solution in the Digital Age, Lesley Harris)


The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information for resolving copyright questions. This research guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.