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Copyright and Fair Use: Compliance Guidelines for Faculty

Print Reserves

One way of legally providing material to students is to place it on reserve with the Library. We provide access to Course Reserve Materials in print and electronic format. For more information, please see the reserves page on the Faculty Guide.

What is the TEACH Act?

The TEACH act is expanded copyrights for education use, including distance education.

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (aka TEACH Act) was enacted in 2002 as an amendment to Section 110(2) of the Copyright Act.  It is, in fact, simply the current version of Section 110(2) and is not a separate law.  Referencing the TEACH Act, after so many years, as the TEACH Act, has actually become misleading at this point.  It is more accurate, when considering whether or not to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted materials - such as those used in online courses - to assess the options as follows:

1. Is permission required from the copyright holder?

2. Does the proposed use constitute a fair use as outlined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act? or

2. Does the proposed use fit within the transmission performance and display exception (Section 110(2)) of the Copyright Act?

Of course, if you are the copyright holder of the work or the work is in the public domain, you may use the work freely.

Copying for Classroom Use

Copying of copyrighted materials for student learning and research use without written permission may occur in the following instances:

Single copying for teachers

Single copies may be made of any of the following by or for teachers at their individual request for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  • One chapter from a book;
  • An article from a periodical, journal, or newspaper;
  • A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book,periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple copies for student learning use

Multiple copies (not to exceed more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for student learning use or discussion; provided that the following three criteria are met:

  • The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity (as defined below).
  • The copying meets the cumulative effect test (as defined below).
  • Each copy includes a notice of copyright. An example is "this material may be protected by Copyright law (title 17, US Code)."


Brevity: Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, (usually varies 3-8 pages depending on size of page and type) or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is greater.

Spontaneity: The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and the inspiration and decision to use the work.The moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

Cumulative effect: Copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.

Obtaining Permission

Permission from copyright holders is often needed when creating course materials, research papers, and web sites. You need to obtain permission when you use a work in a way that infringes on the exclusive rights granted to a copyright holder (i.e. outside the boundaries of fair use).

Steps that need to be followed to obtain permission to use copyrighted material:

  1. Determine if permission is needed for the work you want to use.
  2. Identify the copyright holder or agent. 
  3. Send written request for permission to use. Remember to give yourself ample lead time, as the process for obtaining permissions can take months. Decide if you are willing to pay a licensing fee/royalty.
  4. If the copyright holder can't be located or is unresponsive (or if you are unwilling to pay a license fee), be prepared to use a limited amount that qualifies for fair use, or use alternative material.

For more information, visit the Copyright Clearnce Center's Obtaining Permission page.