The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002

The TEACH Act is a measure in which the United States Congress acknowledges the significance of distance education in the educational system of the United States. It was enacted in 2002 to address some of the restrictions that had hindered efforts to implement highly- effective distance education.
At the basic level, the TEACH Act enables educational resources that are commonly used in the physical classroom, to be employed in a distance education setting. Works that were previously prohibited from inclusion in distance courses are now allowed under the TEACH Act. These works include items such as performances of dramatic and non-dramatic works.

There are several provisions that must be met to allow these materials to adhere to the regulations of the TEACH Act.

  • The Educational Institution must provide a statement on copyright policy. That is the function of this document. In addition to detailing the basic tenets of copyright policy and the TEACH Act, this document strives to provide additional sources of information, contacts to provide technical assistance, and consultation for questions about copyright policy.
  • Notice to students: As one component of the statement on copyright policy, Medaille College requires that students be alerted to the fact that content contained within the online course may be copyrighted, and as such is subject to copyright laws. This notice can be delivered in a variety of ways, but in the context of online courses it should be included as a prominent notification on the course page.
  • Course content used under the premise of the TEACH Act must be password protected, and limited to students enrolled in the course. Additionally, the material may only remain available for a finite period of time that is consistent with the cycle of the course. While there are a multitude of methods to achieve this, there is an application already in place at Medaille College that allows for easy adherence to this requirement. The BBVista Courseware that is implemented college-wide limits access to course pages to enrolled students only, and also requires a password.
  • Reasonable measures must be taken to insure that course materials used under the TEACH Act cannot be easily downloaded and disseminated outside of the distance education setting.  Constant technological advances make this requirement difficult to achieve. However, converting audio and visual files to a streaming format prevents students from simply saving the file to their computers or some other memory device. Various programs exist to create streaming content. Professional staff in the Medaille IT department can assist with this task.
  • Technological controls that are contained within any materials that are used under the provisions of TEACH must not be altered. Some video and audio materials come with technological controls that prevent duplication, storage and dissemination. These technological measures must not be altered in any way.

Works explicitly excluded from protection under the TEACH Act: While the TEACH Act greatly expands the use of materials that can be used in distance education, there are some works that are explicitly prohibited.

  • Works that are commercial in nature and have been created with the express purpose of providing programs intended to be purchased. The code of the TEACH Act expressly prohibits materials that are “marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks.”
  • Any copy of a work that has been unlawfully duplicated, or is suspected of being so is prohibited.

It is important to note that TEACH and Fair Use operate independently of each other. You may encounter situations in which TEACH does not apply to a specific resource, but it still may be used within the provisions of Fair Use.


With the growing importance of online and hybrid course offerings at Medaille College, effective implementation of TEACH and Fair Use will ensure that robust and engaging courses can be offered in the virtual environment. To implement these tools in a responsible manner, the cooperation and guidance of several campus constituencies is necessary.

  • Information Technology Department: The IT Department oversees the courseware applications that are used by Medaille College. Their expertise will be essential in the effective use of materials used under the provisions of TEACH. Using the courseware provided by IT will insure that your online courses will comply with the technological requirements of TEACH.
  • Instructors: All courses are ultimately overseen by instructors. In an effort to develop engaging online courses, instructors must become familiar with the requirements of the TEACH Act and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. However, instructors must also insure that any educational materials provided are legitimate under the premises of TEACH. The TEACH Code states that materials used under the auspices of TEACH must be “an integral part of the class experience, controlled by or under the actual supervision of the instructor and analogous to the type of performance or display that would take place in a live classroom setting. The term does not refer to activities that use, in 1 or more class sessions of a single course, such works as textbooks, course packs, or other material in any media, copies or phonorecords of which are typically purchased or acquired by the students in higher education for their independent use and retention…”
  • The Library: Because of their daily dealings with copyrighted materials, librarians at most institutions have become the de facto consultants with copyright issues. Reserve materials, both physical and electronic, require librarians to assess issues of Fair Use regularly.  Contact the Medaille Library with questions about copyright. In addition to providing some consultation, they will be able to guide you to reliable sources of information that pertain to copyright in the higher education setting.

For further information regarding the TEACH Act please consult this excellent explanation PDF by Kenneth Crews, Professor of Law and Director of the Copyright Management Center, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.

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