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Copyright, Fair Use, & TEACH Act: Copyright for faculty and students


Copyright, Fair Use, and the TEACH Act

Much has been written about Copyright, Fair Use, and the TEACH Act as court cases interpret and reinterpret their applications.  Below are links to credible sites that provide glimpses of this complex subject.  For us here at City College, consult Board of Trustees Policy 5750 which points to San Diego Community College District Copyright Guidelines.  


"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for 'original works of authorship', including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. 'Copyright' literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright."   Quotation from The United States Copyright Office

San Diego Community College District Copyright Guidelines

United States Copyright Office

Copyright Clearance Center will help you get copyright clearances for one-time use, annual use and so on.

Columbia University Copyright Basics

Videos and Copyright:  This page from the American Library Association is rich with links to licensing and permission granting agencies for DVDs, videos, movies and the like.  Because this page is focused on copyright, it does not mention the captioning laws for educational institutions.  For captioning information see SDCCD captioning policies, SDCCD Administrative Procedures, and the nuts and bolts of how to get something captioned.

Fair Use

From 17 U.S. Code ss 107 per Cornell University Law "...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright" according to the fair use doctrine. 

Per Stanford University, "... the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in federal court. Judges use [the following] four factors to resolve fair use disputes...

  1. the purpose and character of your use [commercial, non-profit...]
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken
  4. and the effect of the use upon the potential market."

See more at  Stanford University Fair Use


Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act

"The TEACH Act of 2002 primarily expanded the copyright exemption for online instruction, including the range of allowable works in distance education settings. It permits the performance or display of complete non-dramatic literary or musical works, such as the reading of a poem or short story, or listening to music other than opera or musicals. Showing films or videos is still restricted to limited portions. The TEACH Act also expanded the permissible locations for accessing distance education beyond classrooms or computer labs." Quotation source and for more information see the University of California's TEACH Act page.

"The legislative history of the law expressly provides that the TEACH Act is not intended to limit or otherwise alter the scope of the copyright law’s fair use doctrine.  If a use of a particular work in a distance education setting is not covered by the TEACH Act, fair use principles may still allow it to be used without permission." So says Christopher L. Ashley of the University of Wisconsin in the EDUCAUSE page titiled The Teach Act: Higher Education Challenges for Compliance.



Subject Guide

Carol Withers's picture
Carol Withers
619 388 3871
Liaison to the following areas:
Behavioral Sciences
Fine Arts