TEACH act and Copyright

The easiest way to understand the TEACH act is to look at it's origins.

Displaying content face-to-face

Before the law was established, teachers were provided with the right to showcase any media such as a music, video and images in their educational practices regardless if they asked its owner permission. Surely, an instructor cannot be expected to adhere to strict, copyright law on every occasion where they wish to supplement their lesson. Therefore, allowances were made for face-to-face instruction.

Public Domain and Fair Use

This flexibility allows teachers to use the media as a engaging, scholarly tool. However, not all of it is as cut-and-dry as it appears. Ideally, the purpose of copyright is to keep things "fair" and to ensure that everyone receives credit for their hard work. Your duty as an instructor is to be aware of the differences between Public Domain and Fair Use

Public Domain

Public Domain nonrestrictive content that can be used by anyone for an indefinite amount of time. For example, many famous works of art are public domain as long as the artist has been dead for an exceptional amount of time. This is why "Starry Night" by Van Gogh can be reproduced and parodied without permission. However, if I were to take a photograph of Starry Night and someone else attempted to sell it without my express permission, they would technically be in violation.


This means you may share an image, song, movie, book, without permission but with some restrictions. A teacher must ensure that their use of the copyrighted material adheres to these qualifications : the content must have a clear purpose, that the nature of the work is appropriate, you only use the amount of content required to achieve your purpose and you are conscientious of the effect your use of the work could have on the global market.

Students and FAIR USE

It is imperative that if you have access to fair use content, you ensure that your students cannot freely redistribute it on their own. Always take precautions by watermarking images or sharing them at low resolution.


As technology became a greater presence in the classroom, it also transformed it. Teachers, librarians and other instructors are now teaching face-to-screen which creates an unexpected hurdle in previous copyright laws. Essentially, what the Teach act does, is provides access to copyrighted material for distance education.

The intention of this law is to allow distant learners the same rights as those in the classroom while still providing copyright owners their rights. The public domain and fair use laws were adjusted for those working through a virtual platform. As long as these teachers are using the content for the same purpose as a traditional classroom teacher, they are given the same rights.

Where should I get my content?

Here is a list of websites that are specially geared to educators and are therefore appropriate to use in your classroom.

Where can I learn more?


Created with images by H.Adam - "cuvert - free 2 use TEX" • freestock.ca ♡ dare to share beauty - "Starry Night Rose - Hybrid Oil & HDR" • tvol - "fair use classroom poster draft" • pixsyd - "The Light That Shines"

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