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Student's Guide to Copyright Issues

A students guide to copyright issues, articles and useful links

The TEACH Act of 2001: An Overview

The TEACH (Technology, Education And Copyright Harmonization Act) has made possible a fair balance between copyright holders and the field of education (educators, students and institutions).

This act was created to amend the Copyright Act of 1976, which provided some exemptions of copyright usage, but was found to be too strict with the expanding of distance education.

Five basic changes enacted by the TEACH Act, according to The Educause Review, are:

"1. It expands the categories of works that can be performed in distance education beyond nondramatic literary and musical works to reasonable and limited portions of other works, with the exception of works produced primarily for the education market.

"2. It removes the concept of the physical classroom and recognizes that a student should be able to access the digital content of a course wherever he or she has access to a computer.

"3. It allows storage of copyrighted materials on a server to permit asynchronous performances and displays.

"4. It permits institutions to digitize works to use in distance education when digital versions do not already exist and when the digital work is not subject to technological protection measures that prevent its use.

"5. It clarifies that participants in authorized distance education courses and programs are not liable for infringement for any transient or temporary reproductions that occur through the automatic technical process of digital transmission."

[Gasaway, Laura. "Balancing Copyright Concerns: The TEACH Act of 2001." Educause Review Nov/Dec 2001: pp. 82-83. (C) 2001 EDUCAUSE, (C) permission of EDUCAUSE.]

For more information on the TEACH Act of 2001, please go to:



Instructors may make material available on the College server. This material may not be saved on a student's computer (or portable disk). Material may be viewed only by "officially-enrolled" students.  Students cannot promote further dissemination of material to third parties. 

Steven W. Gilbert, Director Technology Projects, American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) states that when using someone elses ideas, "acknowledge the source," (Gilbert, Steven. "Intellectual Property Protection Online: An Oxymoron?" Syllabus Magazine August 2001: pp 19-21.) 

Be wary of material that you find on the Internet.  Just because one cites a reference for the material does not mean that the site had permission to use that material in the first place.  You can be held liable for copyright infringement even if you take precautions and dont believe you are doing anything illegal.

Material posted to the Web anonymously is protected by the United States Copyright Act, and cannot be utilized without a correct citation of reference.

Although many sources encourage the use of their material (with permission and correct reference citation, of course) some resources may not approve use of their material, even if you ask their permission.  Respect their decision and attempt to find material elsewhere.

The hidden "gotcha"... Watermarking
Digital watermarks are placed on Web files to discourage theft from the Internet. Often, they are undetectable, and contain information about the file's original source. To "Copy-and-paste" text or images will carry the watermark to the new file.

Useful Links:

New Copyright Law for Distance Education: The Meaning and Importance of the TEACH Act
Although written before the President signed the Act into law, this is a very comprehensive document, detailing the TEACH Act.

Dolak's Distance Education Do's & Don't's
Author asks that you notify him if you use these (Dolak, F. "The Ghosts of Copyright past, present and future," ITC Featured Essay, December 2001.)

Copyright and Distance Education provided by Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering @ University of Idaho, Guide #12
Clearing house for copyrights and license of digital content

Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. @
Answers eleven important (and frequently asked) questions concerning copyright and intellectual property.

American Associatioin of University Professors (AAUP)
Concerns distance education and IP issues. Site has links on copyright and guidelines for distance education programs.

U.S. Copyright Office home page
Site has links to legislation and registration. includes Copyright law FAQs.

University of Texas online WATCH Files
Contains an online search site for locating copyright owners

UCLA Office of Instructional Development
Copyright issues for Academics. Contains fair use guidelines for use of multimedia.

TEACH 2001
The Association for American University's testimony on S.B.487 (The TEACH Act) requesting copyright exemption of distance education materials.

Digital Media Association
Home page contains links to articles, court cases and studies of primarily online audio and video media.

Copyright Clearance Center
Center for obtaining permissions and determining ownership of materials.

Turn It In . Com
The site used by many professors and instructors. Used to determine if a writer (student, or otherwise) is in copyright violation or plagerism. using text comparison techniques.

Links valid as of 08-01-03  Ren Drake