The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, signed into law Nov. 2, 2002) was developed to address needs of off-campus use of electronic and visual materials, especially in Distance Education programs which were not addressed in the 1998 DMCA revisions. The typical copyright rule usually just applied to the physical classroom or library, but now education takes place on ground, as a hybrid, or completely online, and the physical classroom is no longer the norm.

The TEACH Act sets up standards for use and distribution of educational materials to those enrolled in a class that is not held in a physical classroom. It attempts to update the “fair use” rules that were never designed for online or distance education.

The American Library Association has an excellent explanation of the TEACH Act and with TEACH Act guidelines.

For Blackboard users, there is a special document describing how Blackboard can be used with the TEACH Act.

It is possible to create direct links legitimately to many online electronic articles through the library web page.  Directions on how to construct a link for most LTU Library articles is noted at the help page at LTU Online. The tutorial to link to journals is the third item on the page and explains how to do it for most items. For some items, like NetLibrary electronic books, there is a slightly different method. Faculty members are invited to contact the library for additional information on how to “keep legal” and take advantage of resources already purchased when developing class readings to be used off-campus.

Distance Learning Issues

“Classroom guidelines” in copyright law always assumed a class was meeting in a physical classroom. This is no longer true for many students. Blackboard revolutionized the student/teacher relationship, and off-campus access to resources became the norm for most academic libraries. “Handouts” might now have to be posted on Blackboard rather than handed out in class, but can this be done legally? Copyright rules had again fallen behind the times.




How to Avoid the Copyright Police

This website from the University of Maryland has a very clear and easy to understand introduction to copyright issues.

Another important concept to remember: just because an article or poem appears on the Internet, it does NOT mean it is in the public domain. There are many illegally posted items on websites. Many owners will aggressively prosecute any infringement of their work. Publishers sometimes have to prosecute the use of works without permission or payment, as they might lose these works to the public domain.