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Copyright and Scholarship



Copyright and scholarly communication information for the Boston College community.

What is the TEACH Act?

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act is a 2002 revision to copyright law that allows inclusion of third-party copyrighted materials in online education that have been traditionally used for ”face-to-face” classes, as long as certain conditions are met. If adhered to, it can allow greater portions of copyrighted material to be used in online class sessions than is otherwise possible. The reason for applying the TEACH Act exemption, instead of Fair Use, is that, unlike Fair Use, it covers highly artistic works and unpublished works. Fair Use is limited in terms of amount used, and the centrality of the portion, whereas the TEACH Act is less restrictive. Content may be used repeatedly under the TEACH Act.

In keeping with current BC policy, where possible a digital license should be acquired. If only a very small clip or part of the film/audio work is required, that should be provided under current Fair Use rules for audiovisual content delivery. Otherwise, application of the TEACH Act should be considered.

This document serves to enumerate how Boston College Libraries and instructors can apply the TEACH Act measures in online courses.

TEACH Act Checklist

This checklist of requirements must be met either by the course instructor, the Library, or by any provider of learning technology on campus (including CDIL, CTE, ITS, etc.) in order to be compliant with the requirements of the Act. The checklist, though based on the LSU Libraries TEACH Act Toolkit, is comprehensive for Boston College; all of the conditions must be met and are non-negotiable. This checklist is available in an editable Google Doc for checking each item (make a copy to edit it yourself).

Eligible Works: Types and Amounts

  • The work is not a digital educational work
    i.e. The work is not produced or marketed primarily for performance/display as part of instructional activities (for example, a video from a Udemy course is not permissible to use here, but a documentary or major motion picture is)
  • The work is lawfully made and acquired
    i.e. BC Libraries own an authorized copy of the work. You may assume this to be the case for items in our collection unless you have reason to suspect otherwise.
  • The use of the work is part of systematic mediated instructional activities
    i.e. The work is to be used as part of a course available only to BC students
  • The use of the work is an integral part of the class session
    Note: We may reasonably assume it is if a faculty member is requesting it.
  • The work is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content?
    Note: We may reasonably assume it is if a faculty member is requesting it.
  • The amount of the work requested is comparable to what would be used in a live classroom setting
    Note: 100% of non-dramatic literary and musical works can be used. For dramatic audiovisual works (e.g. feature films) reasonable and limited portions are permissible. Faculty may determine how much of a work is reasonable for the purposes of their course.


  • Transmission of the work is limited to students enrolled in the course
    i.e. Only students with access to the course in Canvas can view the work

Downstream Controls

  • Are students prevented from downloading/saving the video file?
    Note: this means that the video is uploaded to Canvas via Panopto and that the ability for students to download is disabled from within Panopto. Only the Panopto/Canvas integration should be used for sharing works digitized via the TEACH Act.
  • Is the video removed from Canvas after a reasonable period to correspond with a class session?
    Note: At Boston College this means that the video is removed after 2 weeks. The material can be reposted in another class session if necessary.

Conversion: Analog to Digital

Is there a digital/streaming version of the work available to the institution?

  • Yes:  Stop. Library should purchase and deliver that version.
  • No:  If the library owns a VHS or DVD without DRM, we may copy it. If the library owns or can acquire (via either purchase or donation) a DVD with DRM, we encourage faculty to ask for permission to convert into digital/streaming form for use in their course. If permission is received (or a licensing agreement is concluded), copying the DVD is permitted in accordance with the terms of the permission/license. If permission is not received (either denied or unanswered), the work may be copied in accordance with other protection measures in this checklist and/or Fair Use.
    Note: This means that we can convert VHS and DVDs that DO NOT have Digital Rights Management (DRM) software of any kind. We CANNOT break any DRM mechanism for the purposes of digitization under the TEACH ACT without permission of the rights holder.

Notice to Students

  • The following notice is prepended to the video file as a static slide for 15 seconds
    The materials on this course web site may be subject to copyright. They are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for the purposes and time period associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.
    Where possible, please use this model of an acceptable slide. Note also that students have been made aware of their responsibilities through an announcement on Canvas directing them to this statement.