Citation Edit

Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002, Div. C, Tit. III, Subtitle C of the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, Pub. L. No. 107-273, 116 Stat. 1758, 1910 (Nov. 2, 2002), amending, 17 U.S.C. §101 et seq. (full-text).

Introduction Edit

In November 2002, as part of the comprehensive 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, President Bush signed the "Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act" ("TEACH Act") into law. The TEACH Act amended 17 U.S.C. §110(2), the first distance education exemption under copyright law, with an intricate update. The TEACH Act expands the reach of §110(2) to accommodate educational use of copyrighted works while preserving the limitations set forth in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in order to minimize additional risks to copyright holders.[1]

Permitted works Edit

The TEACH Act permit nonprofit educational instructions to conduct distant education over the Internet, using copyrighted works of almost every kind, without licenses from copyright owners. The types of works educators may use in this way are no longer limited to nondramatic literary and musical works; they now include:

And permissible transmissions no longer have to be received in classrooms; they can be sent to students wherever they may be, including libraries, dorms, homes and coffee shops.

The TEACH Act does not permit educators to post whole books or movies to their websites. It merely permits them to use amounts that are “comparable” to those “typically displayed in a live classroom setting” for such things as books, or “reasonable and limited portions” of things like movies and music.

To be eligible for the exemption, the transmission must be part of a “mediated instructional activity” — the Act’s way of describing what would be a live classroom setting, in the old world of face-to-face education. This means that the Act doesn’t authorize educators to replace textbooks and coursepacks with unlicensed online materials. Also, while students may be located anywhere, they have to be enrolled in the course for which the materials were posted.

Safeguards Edit

Congress recognized that online transmission of copyrighted works, done for any reason, increases the risk that those works will be used and even retransmitted for other reasons. So Congress enacted “safeguards” to protect against this danger. First, the TEACH Act requires educational institutions to “institute policies” designed to promote “compliance” with copyright law, and to inform faculty, students and staff concerning their copyright responsibilities. Of greater practical significance, educational institutions are required to use “technological measures” to prevent students from retaining transmitted works after class sessions end and to prevent students from retransmitting those works to others.

Of course, in order to transmit copyrighted works, they must be copied to servers and temporarily stored in computersrandom access memories. And the TEACH Act contains provisions that specifically authorize both of these things.

Fair use Edit

Finally, Congress made it plain that the TEACH Act does not supercede or replace the fair use doctrine. This means that educational institutions that do some things the Act does not authorize are nevertheless permitted to claim that what they’ve done is separately permitted by the fair use doctrine.

Fair use is a critical part of the distance education landscape. Not only instructional performances and displays, but also other educational materials or student downloading of course materials, will continue to be subject to the fair use doctrine. Fair use [applies] as well to instructional transmissions not covered by the changes to section 110(2) . . . above. Thus for example, the performance of more than a limited portion of a dramatic work in a distance education program might qualify as fair use in appropriate circumstances.[3]

Limitations Edit

The TEACH Act has a two limitations built into it. First, not every nonprofit educational institution will be able to take advantage of it. Recognizing that “nonprofit educational” status is not difficult to come by, the benefits of the Act are available only to nonprofit educational institutions that are “accredited” as well. Second, the Act does not permit the unlicensed transmission of two types of works: those that are created “primarily” to be used for Internet instruction; and “secure tests” (like the SAT).

References Edit

  1. 17 U.S.C. §§1201-05. The DMCA added a new chapter 12 to the Copyright Act entitled “Copyright Protection and Management Systems.” Subject to relatively narrow exceptions, this law makes it illegal to circumvent a technological copyright-control measure.
  2. 17 U.S.C. §110(2).
  3. S. Rep. 107-31, 107th Cong., 1st Sess. 15 (2001).

External resources Edit

  • American Library Association, "Distance Education and the TEACH Act" (full-text).
  • Columbia University Libraries, Copyright Advisory Office, "Copyright Checklist: Compliance with the TEACH Act" (Aug. 17, 2012) (full-text).
  • Kenneth D. Crews, "New Copyright Law for Distance Education: The Meaning and Importance of the TEACH Act" (full-text).
  • Laura N. Gasaway, TEACH Act Comparison Chart (full-text).

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