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An easy to understand guide on Copyright.

decorative icon, movie reel

Video Showing & TEACH Act

Online and face to face classrooms are treated differently by copyright law.  However, in both settings you can:

  • Use the work in accordance with an existing license. The library negotiates licenses to online content that allow for classroom and reserves use. Most material located in the library's collection can be used in your class.
  • Use material shared with an open use or creative commons license.
  • Share a link to the material.
  • Request permissions from the copyright owner.

In face-to-face classes instructors can play a video, display pictures, play music, and perform plays in their totality due to an exception in copyright law (U.S. Copyright Act Section 110(1)) as long as

  • It is a regular part of instructional activities and directly related to teaching content


  • No admission charge is collected.

The rules for online classes are a little different.


Some content adopted from USF Copyright Guide.

Copyright law has some special exceptions for educational use in order to provide educators with the materials needed to teach in a physical classroom. The exceptions apply to physical classroom use. However, with the emergence of distance learning and more specifically online classes, the TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act was created to accommodate instructors online through course management systems.  

The TEACH Act amended the Copyright Act teaching exemption found at 17 U.S.C. § 110(2) to permit certain performances or displays of copyrighted works in a distance learning environment. In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the exemptions under the TEACH Act, there are a number of criteria that must be met. 

See the TEACH Act Checklist tab to evaluate the material you want to use.

Ready to use the TEACH Act?  Use the following checklist to be sure you are in compliance.

University Requirements:

  • Accredited nonprofit educational institution.
  • Institutional copyright use policy.
  • Provides accurate information to faculty, students and staff about copyright

Faculty Requirements:

  • Work is lawfully made and acquired 
  • Materials are specific for students in my class. Only those students will have access to the materials.
  • Materials will be provided at my direction during the relevant lesson
  • Work is directly related and of material assistance to my teaching
  • My class is part of the regular offerings of my institution
  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students' ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session
  • I will store the materials on a secure server and transmit them only as permitted by this law
  • I will not make any copies other than the one I need to make the transmission
  • The materials are of the proper type and amount the law authorizes:
    • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works
    • Reasonable and limited parts of a dramatic literary, musical, or audiovisual works
    • Displays of other works, such as images, in amounts similar to typical displays in face-to-face teaching
  • The materials are not among those the law specifically excludes from its coverage:
    • Materials specifically marketed for classroom use for digital distance education
    • Copies I know or should know are illegal
    • Textbooks, coursepacks, electronic reserves and similar materials typically purchased individually by the students for independent review outside the classroom or class session
  • If I am using an analog original, I checked before digitizing it to be sure:
    • I copied only the amount that I am authorized to transmit
    • There is no digital copy of the work available except with technological protections that prevent my using it for the class in the way the statute authorizes

Adopted from the University of Texas Copyright Crash Course.




flow chart from Duke university: can this material be digitized?

Created by Duke University Libraries to help determine if a video can be used for an online class.





Remember if you can't check all of the boxes for the TEACH Act, you still have options!  

Options include:

  • Linking to the material. Linking to an image, video, or public website is not copying. Just be sure to provide a citation with attribution to the owner of the copyright. It is not usually required to request permission to link to a publicly available website.
  • Use Library Materials! We have a robust collection of online videos and databases can be used for content.  Check out the numerous streaming options at All Streaming and/or search the library catalog for content. The items can be linked to your Canvas course directly or via Course Reserves.


What exactly can I put in my course?

  • Portions of books, journal articles, and other print resources that fall within Fair Use.
  • Materials created by you for the course.
  • Copyrighted materials for which you have obtained permission and supplied written documentation of that permission.
  • Works or sections of works in the public domain.  


What should I avoid putting in my course?

  • Personally reproduced versions of copyrighted films, television programs, documentaries, sound recordings, etc.
  • Excessive portions of copyrighted works that exceed fair use.
  • Course packs.
  • Works prohibited by licensing restrictions.

Tips & Tricks to Remember

  • Anything posted in your course should be evaluated by asking:
    • Is the use transformative—is the purpose for which preexisting copyrighted material is reused different from that for which it was originally created?
    • Is the amount of material used appropriate to the purpose of the new use?
  • Remember to link not copy if possible.  In many of the library databases, materials include a persistent link that you can use in your course.
  • FIU Libraries can assist you by placing things on Course Reserves. In order to keep journal articles and book chapters on reserve for multiple semesters, we need to obtain copyright permission from the copyright holder.
  • Include a Copyright Notice.


Sample Copyright 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.