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Copyright Resources at WIU: TEACH Act

This guide focuses on resources regarding copyright, fair use, and the TEACH Act. Also included are case scenarios. This guide is maintained by Michael Lorenzen in the University Libraries.


The TEACH Act was signed into law in 2002, to help address the growing concerns regarding the use of copyrighted materials in distance education courses.  While the TEACH Act makes allowances for the use of some copyrighted materials, instructors must adhere to strict guidelines.  If the TEACH Act guidelines cannot be followed in a distance education course, instructors should turn to fair use options.

TEACH Act Guidelines

The TEACH Act requires that the academic institution meet specific requirements for copyright compliance and education. 

In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH Act exemptions, the following criteria must be met: 
• The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution. 
• The use must be part of mediated instructional activities. 
• The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class. 
• The use must either be for ‘live’ or asynchronous class sessions.
• The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials “typically purchased or acquired by students,” or works developed specifically for online uses. 
• The institution must have developed and publicized its copyright policies, specifically informing students that course content may be covered by copyright, and include a notice of copyright on the online materials. 
• The institution must implement some technological measures to ensure compliance with these policies, beyond merely assigning a password. 
What the TEACH Act does not allow The new exemptions under the TEACH Act specifically do not extend to: 
• Electronic reserves, course packs (electronic or paper) or interlibrary loan (ILL) 
• Commercial document delivery 
• Textbooks or other digital content provided under license from the author, publisher, aggregator or other entity 
• Conversion of materials from analog to digital formats, except when the converted material is used solely for authorized transmissions and when a digital version of a work is unavailable or protected by technological measures