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Copyright at JMU

A guide to copyright at James Madison University


The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002) is of particular relevance to instructors teaching online or hybrid classes, providing materials to students via Canvas. The TEACH Act provides parameters for using copyrighted materials in the online environment, akin to how they might otherwise be used in face-to-face instruction.

Important matters to consider when using the TEACH Act to provide students with access to copyrighted materials are:

  • The materials should be placed in Canvas, thereby requiring a JMU e-ID and password in order to be accessed.
  • The materials should have a definite pedagogical purpose - for example, to be used in conjunction with an assignment or to facilitate a particular discussion board.
  • Students must be reminded that these are copyrighted materials and they ought not to download them or disseminate them; it is preferable, wherever possible, to provide access to streaming media rather than downloadable media in formats such as mp3 or mp4.
  • The TEACH Act covers media (e.g. films and images), not text. Using copyrighted textual materials falls under the Doctrine of Fair Use or institutional or other licensing, not the TEACH Act.
  • Limited parts of audiovisual works may be uploaded, but it is ideal to use the smallest amount possible while still fulfilling the pedagogical purposes.
  • The TEACH Act allows uploading of copyrighted images, replicating the use of such images that might otherwise occur in the face-to-face classroom.


For a useful overview of the TEACH Act's criteria, please consult the TEACH Act Checklist, provided by University of Texas Libraries.