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Frequently Asked Questions


What about on-line classes?


In 2002, the Copyright Law was amended to include an exemption for the instructional use of copyrighted works for digital distance education by an accredited non-profit educational institution. To use copyrighted works in digital distance education, the works must fall into one of the following categories:
  • Performances of nondramatic literary works or
  • Performances of nondramatic musical works or
  • Performances of reasonable portions of any other work or
  • Display of any other work in an amount comparable to that typically displayed in a live classroom setting
But cannot be:
  • Digital educational works (Works produced or marketed primarily for performance/display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks) or
  • Unlawful copies (copies you know or reasonably should know were not lawfully made or acquired)
And the work must be used:
  • By, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor, and
  • As an integral part of a class session, and
  • As part of systematic mediated instructional activities, and
  • Directly related to and of material assistance to the teaching content
As long as:
  • Transmission is made solely for and reception limited to (as technologically feasible) students enrolled in the course, and
  • Downstream controls are instituted:
    • Technological measures that reasonably prevent retention of materials in accessible form for longer than a class session
    • Unauthorized further dissemination in accessible form, and
    • No interference with copyright holder's technological measures that prevent such retention and dissemination
Conversion of analog to digital is permitted if:
  • No digital version is available to the institution or
  • The available digital version is technologically protected to prevent TEACH uses.
(This description of the TEACH ACT is adapted from the following website: (

If your use does not meet the above criteria and the work is protected by copyright, you must obtain permission to use the work from the copyright holder or its agent.

This Act was not intended to limit or change the scope of the fair use doctrine. In many instances fair use will still apply to and work for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education.
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