The Copyright Act accords special rights to teachers to use copyrighted materials
in the classroom, including not just traditional face-to-face classroom situations,
but also distance-learning environments. In particular, the following is permitted:
“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
…the performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or reasonable and limited
portions of any other work, or display of a work in an amount comparable to that which
is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session, by or in the course
of a transmission.”
To be in compliance with the above-mentioned uses, faculty must ensure that:
All copies of the materials are legally acquired.
The materials are displayed for educational reasons (must be an integral part of the
A member of the class (either instructor or student) must be in charge of the display
of the materials, and
The materials should only be displayed to members of the class. The latter requirement
suggests that it is inappropriate to invite guests to a classroom showing of a movie.
The transmission is made solely for and limited to students enrolled in the course,
and technological controls are instituted that reasonably prevent retention for longer
than a class session and downstream copting.
There is no interference with the copyright holder’s technological measures that prevent
such retention and dissemination.
Under the TEACH Act it is not copyright infringement for teachers and students at
an accredited, not-for-profit educational institution to transmit performances and
displays of copyrighted works as part of a course if certain conditions are met. If
these conditions are not or cannot be met, use of the material will have to qualify
as a fair use or permission from the copyright holder(s) must be obtained.