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Copyright and Distance Learning

All users of the room are required to have any non-original content reviewed by the University Copyright Officer, Rick Davis ( 410-704-2686, rkdavis@towson.edu), prior to the recording session to ensure compliance with all content distribution restrictions. Material that is commonly used without restriction in a traditional classroom often may not be transmitted via the Internet.

Whenever fair use is claimed for use of non-original content, links to the recorded presentation may only be placed within Blackboard or a similar non-public, secure, password-protected environment. Complete and accurate citations for all non-original content must be included, and any copyright notices that appeared on the work must be reproduced; in addition, the following copyright warning must accompany the presentation:

This presentation features copyrighted materials which have been included in accordance with the fair use exemption and other provisions of U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). These materials are intended solely for the use of students enrolled in this course and solely for purposes relating to this course. Any further reproduction or distribution of these materials may be prohibited by law.

Those who wish to use their presentation under any circumstances other than those for which it was originally created should consult once again with the University Copyright Officer to see if fair use still applies. For further information about copyright and the use of copyrighted materials at Towson University, see the TU Guidelines for Use of Material Protected by Copyright.

Material that is commonly used without restriction in a traditional classroom often may not be transmitted via the Internet.

The primary guidance for copyright compliance in online distance education is offered in The TEACH Act, summarized below.

The following is allowed under the TEACH Act:

  • Performance of non-dramatic literary works or musical compositions. Performance of "reasonable and limited" portions of other types of works (e.g., films, sound recordings, dramatic literary works and musical compositions, like plays, operas, and musicals).
  • Display of works in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in a traditional classroom session (e.g., individual images or frames from a motion picture shown non-sequentially).
  • Digitization of analog works if no digital version is available or if the available digital version is not in an accessible form. However, the total amount digitized cannot exceed what is specifically allowed for performance or display of that type of work (see above).

The following is NOT allowed under the TEACH Act:

  • Use of works “marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks" (commercially available digital distance-education materials) .
  • Transmission of textbook or coursepack materials, “consumables” (workbooks or lab manuals), or other material in any media which is typically purchased by students for independent use.
  • Further dissemination of transmitted works by recipients.
  • Use of unlawfully made copies of copyrighted works, if the transmitting institution "knew or had reason to believe" that they were not lawfully made and acquired.


Any copyrighted content displayed or performed during a DMC recording session and subsequently transmitted under the TEACH exemption must be “directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission.”

Distance-education students may access and retain copies of copyrighted works transmitted under TEACH only for the length of the "class session.“

For additional information about TEACH:


Click here for links to public domain and other resources.




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