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Using Copyrighted Materials in Instruction: Teaching Exceptions

Covers copyright in general, exceptions, permissions, licensing, ereserves, course management systems

Face-to-Face Teaching Exception 17 U.S.C. §110(1)

  • "Performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities. . . in a classroom . . ."
  • Must use a lawfully made copy.
    • You may use a library or personal copy, but not a copy made by circumventing technological protection measures (DRM).
  • Must be for teaching purposes only.
  • Allows for classroom use of "For Home Use" labeled media.
  • It does not cover copying (fair use).
  • Does not cover materials in a course management system such as iCollege.


Distance Learning Exception TEACH Act 17 U.S.C. §110(2)

  • Transmission of non-dramatic literary or musical work or reasonable portions of other works
    • but not works marketed for online use
      • What is a reasonable portion? Never more than would be used in a typical face-to-face classroom session. And never more than needed for your pedagogical purpose.
  • By the instructor as an integral part of mediated instructional activities
  • Directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content
  • Reception is limited to students officially enrolled - password access (put it in the course management system)
  • The institute has policies regarding copyright and provides informational materials to faculty, staff, and students
  • Notice to students that materials used may be subject to copyright protection
  • Technological protection measures reasonably prevent retention of the work for longer than the class session and reasonably prevent unauthorized further dissemination. (streaming can meet this requirement)
  • The copy was not made by circumventing technological protection measures (*but ask about triennial exemptions)

Think you are ready to use the TEACH Act? Check the University of Texas TEACH Act Checklist


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) 17 U.S.C. §1201 forbids circumvention of a technological measure effectively controlling access to a work protected under copyright. 

Generally, it is a violation to go around any digital access controls if such access is unauthorized.

There are limited exceptions for a few uses, including critical educational uses. Click here for the current exemptions.