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Copyright and Fair Use: Purdue University Copyright Office

Instructors Guide for Copyright

Online Classroom Copyright Requirements

Virtual instruction includes digitally transmitting class materials to students. This transmission is authorized under the TEACH (Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization) Act which is a part of the copyright law. One of the major requirements of the law is that materials can only be digitally transmitted to students officially registered in the course. There are other requirements for teaching, technology, and course materials that instructors must meet as well before using the TEACH exception. If all the requirements are not met, then apply the fair use exception.


  1. The performance or display of materials is an integral part of the class session.
  2. The performance or display of materials is directly related to the teaching content.
  3. The performance or display of materials is comparable to what takes place in a live classroom setting.
  4. The performance or display is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of the instructor.
  5. The class is offered as a regular part of Purdue University’s curriculum.


Many course management systems include most of the technological protections that are necessary to comply with the TEACH Act.  However, it is the instructor's responsibility to ensure that the following requirements are met:

  1. Only the students officially enrolled in the class may have access to the materials.
  2. The materials are available to the students only for the duration of the class session.
  3. To the extent technologically possible, technological protections have been implemented to prevent students from retaining and further distributing the course material

Course Materials

  1. The following materials may be transmitted under the TEACH exception:
  2. Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works.
  3. Performances of limited and reasonable portions of dramatic literary and musical works, audiovisual works, and sound recordings.
  4. Displays of works but only in an amount comparable to what would be displayed in a live classroom setting.

Example: Images such as photographs and slides

  1. .Materials that can be considered supplementary and would not be used in a live classroom setting.

Example: Recommended readings.

Other Requirements for Materials

  1. The materials must contain a notice stating that they may be subject to copyright protection.
  2. If there is no digital version available, then an analog version can be converted to digital but only in the amount that is needed.

The University Copyright Office was established in 2000 to advise Purdue University faculty and staff on the application of copyright law in a higher education setting and to provide information on current copyright issues. The Office also provides programs to promote compliance and awareness. It is the responsibility of all members of the Purdue University community to make a good faith determination that their use of copyrighted materials complies with the United States Copyright Law and the Purdue University Copyright Policy.

For further information about copyright or to set up an appointment, please contact the office at 765.496.3864 or Donna Ferullo, Director, at The Office is located in Stewart Center, Room 264A.

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