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Copyright and Fair Use: Online Courses

A brief introduction to matters of copyright and fair use exemptions in an academic setting

TEACH Act: Introduction

The TEACH Act extends the face-to-face teaching exemption to distance learning courses in a limited way. The exemption is narrow, and rarely applicable at OBU, since OBU has very few mediated distance online courses. Note that this exemption does not apply to iTunes U or to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); instead, faculty for such ourses will need to rely on the fair use exemption or pay for distribution rights.   

When the TEACH Act applies, it allows the instructor to transmit performances of entire non-dramatic works and reasonable and limited portions of any other audiovisual work without obtaining permission. For the Act to apply, the performance or display must be:

  1. A regular part of mediated instructional activity;
  2. Made by, at the direction of, or under the supervision of the instructor; and
  3. Directly related and of material assistance to the content of the course.

Further, the following technological restraints must be in effect:

  1. The content must be accessible only to students who are enrolled in the course;
  2. The content must be accessible only for the duration of a class session;
  3. To the extent technologically possible, the content must be protected from further distribution ("downstream-controlled");
  4. To the extent technologically possible, the content must not be subject to retention by students;
  5. All material displayed must contain the following notice:

The materials on this course website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. The materials on this course website may be protected by copyright; any further use of this material may be in violation of federal copyright law.


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