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Intellectual Property

A guide to understanding the different types of Intellectual Property (Copyright, Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets)


The TEACH Act, (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act)  was created in 2002 to update Section 110(2) of the copyright act. It covers transmitting copyrighted material through streaming technology and is another exception that allows limited use of copyrighted works in education. Specifically, the TEACH Act applies to any transmission of copyrighted works to students, including materials posted in a course management system.

It is important to note that the TEACH Act is not meant to replace other exceptions such as fair use, the public domain, and other copyright principles. It is instead a supplement that can be used in addition to the other opportunities. 

However, implementing the TEACH Act requires the institution to write and adopt copyright policies, put technological protections in place, and require specific limits on the copyrighted materials used. 

Requirements of the TEACH Act

1. The TEACH Act only applies to a "government body or an accredited nonprofit educational institution," such as public schools, colleges and universities, and public libraries. 

2. The institution must have policies regarding copyright available publicly and provide copyright information, specifically to inform students that course content may be covered by copyright.

3. The TEACH Act requires that the institution limit the transmission to students enrolled in the course "to the extent technologically feasible." Additionally, the institution must have technical measures in place to prevent students from retaining the work for longer than the class session, or disseminating the work outside of the course. 

4. The instructor must supervise the digital performance or display and materials must be directly related to the content being taught and not for entertainment purposes. 

For more details about the TEACH Act requirements, please see The Original TEACH Act Toolkit linked in the resources below.

Crews, Kenneth D. Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions. ALA Editions, Chicago, 2020.

Works Permitted and Excluded in the TEACH Act

The TEACH Act allows:

  • Performances of nondramatic literary works
  • Performances of nondramatic musical works
  • Performances of any other work, including dramatic works and audiovisual works, but only in "reasonable and limited portions" 
  • Displays of any work "in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session"


The TEACH Act does not allow:

  • Works that are marketed "primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks." (i.e. the material cannot include textbooks that would normally be purchased by the student or works developed specifically for online use)
  • Performances or displays given by means of copies "not lawfully made and acquired" under the U.S. Copyright Act. 

Crews, Kenneth D. Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions. ALA Editions, Chicago, 2020.