Although copyright law generally treats digital and non-digital copyright-protected works in a similar manner, special digital uses, such as online distance learning and course management systems, require special attention. Some of the special copyright requirements of online distance learning are specifically addressed by the TEACH Act.
The TEACH Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the Act's qualifying requirements. Its primary purpose is to balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders. TEACH applies to distance education that includes the participation of any enrolled student, on or off campus.
In exchange for unprecedented access to copyright-protected material for distance education, TEACH requires that the academic institution meet specific requirements for copyright compliance and education.
In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH exemptions, the following criteria must be met:
The new exemptions under TEACH specifically do not extend to:
It is also important to note that TEACH does not supersede fair use or existing digital license agreements.
Ultimately, it is up to each academic institution to decide whether to take advantage of the new copyright exemptions under TEACH. This decision should consider both the extent of the institution's distance-education programs and its ability to meet the education, compliance and technological requirements of TEACH.
Source: The information is based on the Copyright Clearance Center.