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Copyright Resources: TEACH Act and Distance Education

Copyright resources for the Fordham University community.

What is the TEACH Act?

The Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act is an expansion of U.S. Copyright Law that provides allowances for online/distance education programs. Key points include:

  • Allowing "reasonable or limited portions" of dramatic and audiovisual works to be posted on a web platform for instruction;
  • Promoting direct links to electronic resources, videos that include attribution, and streaming media;
  • Allowing scenes and/or portions of films to be uploaded for limited amount of time for instructional purposes.

Requirements of the TEACH Act

Compliance with the TEACH Act for online and/or distance education includes:

  • The university has a responsibility to institute and promote a policy concerning copyright and provide informational materials regarding copyright to its community.
  • Materials must be course-specific and similar to what would be used in a face-to-face environment.
  • Materials should be made available only to those enrolled in the specific course and not available on the "open web." Password-protected course pages in a learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard are an example of limiting access to materials.
  • Posted materials must be accompanied by a notice of copyright to inform students that materials must be used in accordance with copyright law and the institution's copyright policies.

The TEACH Act emphasizes the instructor's responsibility for knowing what can or cannot be posted or shared legally. Instructors ultimately supervise the use of copyrighted works within a learning management system. Content posted for a course should serve educational purposes and not entertainment and/or commercial purposes.

For assistance with assessing TEACH Act compliance, please use our TEACH Act checklist linked below.

Fair Use, TEACH Act, and Permissions

Fair use and the TEACH Act are both exceptions/limitations to U.S. Copyright Law. This means limited reuse of copyrighted works is allowed without having to seek permission. Under the TEACH Act, instructors may:

For assistance with understanding Fair Use, please use our Fair Use checklist as a guide:

Direct Links vs. Uploading Documents

The TEACH Act requires providing direct links to a content found within library databases rather than uploading the materials to a learning management system (LMS) or other web platform. Due to the licensing agreements between database providers and libraries, instructors eliminate the risk of violating U.S. Copyright Law and other contractual agreements by linking to electronic resources through the library. Additionally, content is usually more accessible to people with disabilities within the database environment.

For assistance with creating a stable or "permalinks" to library database content:


TEACH Act: Guidelines for Posting Course Materials.

Use the acronym "LEARN" as a guide to understanding how you can safely share course materials with your students under the TEACH Act:

  • Legal: Post materials that were legally acquired or purchased.
  • External: Provide external permalinks to content that is licensed by the library.
  • Access: Restrict access to the content once the course has concluded.
  • Redistribute: Remind students not to redistribute copyrighted works.
  • Notice: Include copyright notices for each individual material.

Copyright & Online Education

Do you want to learn more about online distance education at Fordham? Visit Fordham IT's resources for teaching online and check out additional pages on this research guide to understand copyright and fair use.

Additional Questions?

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