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Legally speaking: The TEACH ACT

I’m sure you remember the specific instructions and warnings in class from faculty in your undergraduate program about making sure any paper or thesis you authored properly gave credit to any work of another, whether that work was cited in footnotes, in the references at the end of the text, with the author’s permission, or in any other manner.

Not only was this caveat essential to your ethical and professional development as an up-and-coming professional nurse, it was also essential due to established copyright law.

Today’s educational opportunities for advanced degrees now provide for online opportunities. You might think that copyright law does not apply to online classes offered by you academic institution. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In addition to other aspects of the copyright law that are applicable to the Internet and the Web, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH ACT) became law on November 2, 2002.

The Act was the result of discussions and negotiations among academic institutions, publishers, library organizations and Congress in order to balance the perspectives of both copyright owners and content users and provide guidance for today’s academic institutions.

The purpose of the TEACH ACT is to allow the presentation and display of copyrighted materials for online distance learning by an enrolled student wherever that student may be located.
In order to allow the enrolled student access to the copyrighted material that can be stored, copied or digitalized by the student, the institution must comply with specific requirements:

The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational establishment;

The use of the copyrighted material must be part of mediated instructional activities;

The use of the copyrighted material must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class;

The use of the copyrighted material must either be for “live” or asynchronous class sessions;

The use of the copyrighted material cannot include the transmission of textbook materials, or materials “typically purchased or acquired by students” or works developed specifically for online uses;

Only “reasonable and limited portions” of the copyrighted material may be used;

The academic institution must publish and publicize its copyright policies and specifically inform students that course content may be covered by copyright law, and include a notice of copyright on the online materials; and

The institution must implement technological measure to ensure compliance with its policies beyond a mere password access.

If you are a faculty member teaching an online distant learning course, your compliance, and your academic institution’s compliance, with the TEACH ACT is essential.

You may want to review the full list of the TEACH ACT’s requirements at

The act does not allow for the use of paper or electronic “course packs” for students nor does it cover textbooks or other digital content provided under a license from the author, publisher or other entity. As a student enrolled in an online distant learning course, do not lend your password or other access methods to the online course to another student, whether enrolled in the course or not. In addition, comply with the institution’s declared policy concerning copyright law so as not to place yourself or your institution in violation of the TEACH ACT or other applicable copyright law mandates.


Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. (nd). The TEACH ACT: New Roles, Rules and Responsibilities for Academic Institutions. Danvers, MA: author, 1.

Nancy J. Brent (2014), Legal and Ethical Issues, Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses. Cynthia Saver. 2nd Edition. Indianapolis, Indiana: Sigma Theta Tau,
International, 191-192.

The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance (2005). Copyright Basics: The TEACH ACT, 1-2. Available at Accessed August 1, 2014.

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By | 2014-08-17T00:00:00-04:00 August 17th, 2014|Categories: National|0 Comments

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