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Copyright Law for Students and Faculty: Fair Use and T.E.A.C.H.: T.E.A.C.H. Act

Discusses copyright restrictions on use of the material of others by students and faculty.

What is the T.E.A.C.H. Act?

T.E.A.C.H. Act is the short name for the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002, amendments to the copyright laws. T.E.A.C.H. adds additional limits on copyright to better facilitate the use of copyrighted materials within teaching activities of a nonprofit educations institution in a classroom or similar place. As such an institution, the University of Cincinnati can take advantage of some, but not all, of these provisions as explained below.

T.E.A.C.H. applies only to the performance or display of a copyrighted work, subject to further limitations in some instances.  It could apply to showing a movie, displaying a photo or work of art, playing a recorded song or reading aloud a poem, but it does not apply to making copies of any works for purposes of reproducing or redistributing the original.

What may I lawfully do in a face-to-face class?

In the course of a face-to-face class within a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, you can perform or display any work, unless in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work (music recording, video) you are using a copy that was not lawfully made. So, in this case, if you bring in the original disc or recording that you had purchased for personal use, you may use it within the classroom in these circumstances, despite its original license asserting that it was for home viewing only. The key is that is must be a lawfully made copy. You are not restricted as to the portion of the work that you show or display, as long as it is within the classroom setting and part of teaching activities. Showing a full motion picture to a class on film history would be an example of such an allowed use.  Showing a film to fill up time for a science class while you are busy doing something else is not an allowed use.

What May I Do in a Digitally Transmitted Class?

The T.E.A.C.H. Act sets out specific requirements for "performance or display" of a qualified work which is "typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session, by or in the course of a transmission." Among these requirements is that the University of Cincinnati "institutes policies regarding copyright, provides informational materials to faculty, students, and relevant staff members that accurately describe, and promote compliance with, the laws of the United States relating to copyright, and provides notice to students that materials used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection." As of August, 2012 the university has not adopted such policies so the provisions of the T.E.A.C.H. Act related to digital transmission are not available to you.

Once the university adopts such policies, then the performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or reasonable and limited portions of any other work is permitted if the following additional conditions are met:

  1. The performance or display is made at the direction of or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session offered as part of regular classes.
  2. The performance or display is directly related to and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission.
  3. The transmission is made solely for and technological means are used to limit its reception to the students enrolled in the course.
  4. The transmission method must prevent retention longer than the class session and prevent its further dissemination to others.

We anticipate that UCIT will implement a system that will comply with the requirements of items 3 and 4 above, and that the provisions of the Act will then become available to faculty.

Director of the Law Library and Information Technology

Kenneth Hirsh's picture
Kenneth Hirsh
Robert S. Marx Law Library

College of Law Room 314B

P.O. Box 210142

Cincinnati, OH 45221-0142

Phone (513) 556-0159

Fax (513) 556-6265
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