Copyright Reminder

Distance learning

The TEACH Act extends the Face-to-Face Teaching exemption to distance learning courses in a limited way.  The exemption applies only to online courses restricted to registered students, and so may be applicable for Stanford courses that incorporate an online component.  This exemption does not apply to iTunes U or to MOOCs (e.g. Coursera, NovoEd, Lagunita), which are open to students outside of Stanford, and faculty preparing such courses will need to rely on the fair use exemption, or pay for distribution rights.  

When the TEACH Act does apply, it allows the instructor to transmit performances of entire non-dramatic works and reasonable and limited portions of any other audiovisual work without obtaining permission.  For the act to apply, the performance or display must be:

  1. A regular part of mediated instructional activity;
  2. Made by, at the direction of, or under the supervision of the instructor; and
  3. Directly related and of material assistance to the content of the course.

Further, the following technological restraints must be in effect:

  1. The content must be accessible only to those students who are enrolled in the course;
  2. The content must be accessible only for the duration of a class session;
  3. To the extent technologically possible, the content must be protected from further distribution (“downstream-controlled”); and
  4. To the extent technologically possible, the content must not be subject to retention by students
  5. All material displayed must contain the following notice:

The materials on this course website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.  The materials on this course website may be protected by copyright; any further use of this material may be in violation of federal copyright law.

Georgia Harper at the University of Texas has produced an excellent checklist ( to help you determine if your use qualifies under the TEACH Act.

  • It is easier to satisfy the “technical restraints” described in the TEACH Act if you use Canvas to deliver your courses since Canvas has built-in functionalities that enable compliance with the TEACH Act’s technical requirements.
  • For this and other compliance reasons (e.g., student privacy) associated with public posting of recorded lectures, instructors should not post recorded lectures on any site other than their Stanford Canvas course site.