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Copyright and Fair Use

Information on copyright and fair use exemptions.


In 2002, the United States Congress passed the TEACH Act to clarify some of the copyright issues created by the advent of digital media. While educators welcomed these clarifications, copyright and fair use remains a complicated part of academic life. For more information check out this Guide to the TEACH Act.

"Copyright law provides educators with a separate set of rights in addition to fair use, to display (show) and perform (show or play) others' works in the classroom. These rights are in Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act and apply to any work, regardless of the medium." - from the University of Texas Libraries' copyright guide

The following is from the Guide to the TEACH Act:

Is a teacher allowed to print anything from the web and make copies to distribute to his or her students?
Yes, within the boundaries of fair use and the Guidelines on Multiple Copying for Classroom Use. There are word and other limitations within the guidelines as well as the one-term restriction on use. Another alternative is simply to provide the students with a link to materials on the web which entirely avoids printing and distribution by the teacher.

What issues are there for students printing material from a password protected course?
None. The real issues involve whether and under what conditions the teacher may make the material available to the students so that it may be downloaded or printed. If this is done correctly, then when a student either prints or downloads the material, it is not infringement.


Learn more about the TEACH Act and showing films in the classroom in this American Library Association document.

"17 U.S.C. § 110(1) permits “the performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction....” It applies to showing of entire films, and also to those that involve less extensive clips from one or several sources.

This provision contains several noteworthy limitations. First, it applies only to face-to-face teaching activities, not distance education. The exceptions that apply to distance education are found in the TEACH Act, 17 U.S.C. § 110(2), and the fair use privilege, 17 U.S.C. § 107."
This section in the Guide to the TEACH Act might also be helpful: Providing Online Access to Materials Performed or Displayed

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