Teacher Act

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TEACH Act: Description & Terms

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) was signed into law on Nov. 2, 2002. It deals specifically with use of copyrighted materials in digital distance education. If numerous requirements are met, TEACH facilitates the use of these materials in digital distance education without having to obtain prior permission from the copyright owner.

The TEACH Act updates the Fair-Use exemption of U.S. Copyright Law thus expanding the limitations to a copyright owner's exclusive rights. Fair-Use provisions, which were enacted into law in 1976, allow educators, scholars and students limited use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission from copyright holders. The distinction between Fair-Use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined but certain guidelines have been offered.

TEACH Act: Requirements

To use copyright protected materials under the aegis of the TEACH Act, your project must fulfill the following requirements.

If you cannot satisfy all of these requirements, consider whether the materials are already in the Public Domain, or if your intended use will qualify under the Fair Use exemption of U.S. Copyright Law. If not, please consult Design and Digital Print Services to learn how to secure permission from the copyright owner.


  1. My class is an official course offering of Fairfield University.
  2. I have read, understand, and will adhere to the following guidelines for the type of material I intend to make use of: audio recordings & music guidelines, images guidelines, movies & videos guidelines, multimedia guidelines, printed materials guidelines, software guidelines or TV Programs & Off-Air Recordings.
  3. The materials I wish to use were lawfully made and acquired.
  4. The material I wish to use is not pre-packaged, digital instruction marketed as educational content for online learning (e.g., a course or lesson one can purchase).
  5. The materials I wish to use are (check one):

    a. Nondramatic literary work (may use all)
    b. Nondramatic musical work (may use all)
    c. Reasonable, limited portion of any other work that must be performed for my class
    d. Display of any other work in amount analogous to live classroom setting.

  6. The materials I wish to use are related and of material assistance to my teaching content.
  7. The materials I wish to use will be provided at my direction during the relevant lesson.
  8. I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of the class session.
  9. I will present the materials I wish to use accompanied by the university's Copyright Warning Notice.
  10. I will present the materials I wish to use accompanied by the Copyright Primer tutorial.
  11. I have worked with C&NS to limit reception of the materials to students enrolled in the course.
  12. I have worked with C&NS to institute reasonable technological controls so that students may not retain or further distribute the materials I wish to use. (For information on technology regulations regarding images and streaming video please see Technical Compliance below.)
  13. For conversions of analog to digital:

    a. No digital version is available to my institution.
    b. Digital version available is technologically protected.
    c. Not applicable

TEACH Act: Technical Compliance

Still Images

The use of copyrighted still images is explicitly addressed in the TEACH Act, and specific procedures have to be followed to comply with the law. Images that, in a face-to-face classroom setting, could be photocopied and handed out to students need to be treated differently when placed online. The fact that the images may be placed on a limited-access website (such as within a WebCT class) does not alleviate the need to follow the TEACH Act guidelines. Fairfield University's Copyright Committee has determined that in order not to place the University at any legal risk, all instructors should follow the procedure below:

  • Obtain a copy of the program iWatermark from Computing & Network Services (this will run on Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Mac OS X), along with the accompanying instruction sheet. Install the program and launch it, and place the following watermark text: Fairfield University / For online educational use only.
  • Collect all images that you intend to use on your class site, and divide them into two categories: those that you know are not copyrighted (e.g., public domain photos, pictures you took yourself), and those that may be copyrighted.
  • Use iWatermark to take your folder of possibly copyrighted images and create a new folder of the same images with an overlay of the appropriate disclaimer (see iWatermark instruction sheet for exact process.
  • You can now move the watermarked versions of the image to WebCT or other distance ed website.

Streaming Video

The use of digitized video is explicitly addressed in the TEACH Act, and specific procedures have to be followed to comply with the law. Videos material that is available for purchase in a digitized format must be purchased for use as streaming video, even if you already own an analog version (e.g., VHS video) of the program. Only those programs that have not been released in a digitized version may be converted by University faculty/staff for streaming purposes.

Once a video is in the correct format for streaming, two basic requirements must be met: the administrator of the video server must place a text notice within each stream designating it as Fairfield University / For online educational use only, and the stream must be explicitly limited to only those students who are registered for the online course. For faculty members, this means that a complete class list, including e-mail addresses, must be provided to the administrator of the video server before any materials can be put online. The administrator will then create usernames and passwords for the students and e-mail the access information to each one. The streaming video material must also be accessible only for that time that is absolutely necessary for instruction. Faculty should therefore provide the administrator the beginning and ending dates for each video to be available.

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