The TEACH Act was passed in 2002 as an amendment to section 110 of the existing copyright law. It further defines the exceptions of copyright law for online and other distance education uses, and it defines the responsibilities of institutions and instructors to qualify for these exceptions.
The TEACH Act permits instructors to display audio/visual media in distance education settings under the following circumstances:
- The performance is of a non-dramatic literary work or musical work.
- The performance of any other work, such as dramatic or other audiovisual works, is only in "reasonable and limited portions." In other words, this generally excludes showing full-length movies online.
- The performance of any work is "in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session."
- The work that is shown was not produced specifically for paid, online educational use. In other words, movies and other materials produced and marketed by educational publishers cannot be shown without obtaining a license.
- If a movie is digitized to show online, the amount digitized is limited to the amount that may be displayed.
- The resultant digital version of the movie is not made available to the institution outside of the course, but is secured through appropriate technological measures from being accessed by anyone other than the instructor or the students for the limited period of time in which they need to view the content.
For these exceptions to be applicable, the institution and information technology administrators must meet additional requirements:
- It must be an accredited non-profit institution.
- The institution must have instituted policies regarding copyright.
- The institution must provide informational materials regarding copyright.
- There must be a statement, visible to students, that materials within the course are subject to copyright protection
- Movies and other content must only be shown to students officially enrolled in the course.
- The institution must implement technological measures to prevent students from downloading and retaining the content.
- Copies of movies shown cannot be made illegally by bypassing technological measures implemented to prevent copying.
- Movies and other media cannot be made available to students for a longer period than is necessary.
- Any digital copies of media stored long-term must not be used for further copying.