Copyright & Fair Use Basics

Copyright Exceptions

There are exceptions in the copyright law that allow for re-use of copyrighted material without the owner's permission, under certain circumstances. These exceptions aim to balance the rights of authors with the public's ability to create, share and learn.

The most common copyright exceptions in higher education include:

  • Fair use
  • The face-to-face teaching exemption (17 U.S. Code Section 110)
  • The TEACH Act (full revision of Section 110(2))

What is the TEACH Act?

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002 is an update of U.S. copyright law, specifically Section 110(2), and facilitates the display of copyrighted material through distance education. Though the phrases "online courses" or "distance education" never actually appear in the statute, it covers the transmission of performances or displays of copyrighted materials by accredited, non-profit educational institutions.

To qualify for a copyright exception under the TEACH Act, however, institutions must meet a stringent list of requirements. This might make the TEACH Act too burdensome for instructors and prevent its use, but Fair Use or other copyright exceptions may still be an option.

To learn more about the TEACH Act, visit the Original TEACH Act Toolkit created by LSU Libraries or reach out to your librarian.

Further Resources