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Copyright ImageThis site is designed to answer questions and provide information to Eastern Kentucky University faculty, staff and students regarding copyrighted materials and their use within the educational setting. In the event that you do not find an answer here, please don't hesitate to contact Linda Sizemore -- Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Using Copyrighted Material in Online Teaching:  The TEACH ACT

A common misconception among online educators is that the TEACH Act gives more leniency toward posting copyright material in course management systems such as Blackboard.  The Act supplements copyright law’s fair use exception that allows certain uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder.  However, there are still limitations:

  • Motion media (e.g., video): Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less.
  • Text material: Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, usually one chapter or one article per journal issue.
  • Music, Lyrics, Music Video: Up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds.
  • Illustrations, Photographs: No more than five images from an artist/photographer, or no more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, of collective work.

In face-to-face teaching, a professor can show the full length of a movie as long as the movie is directly related to the course content and only students on the class roster are viewing the movie.  In an online only class, a professor cannot convert the full length of a movie to a streaming format without obtaining the permission of the copyright holder.  Why?  According to copyright law, Title 17 United States Code section 106, the right to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords is the exclusive right of the copyright holder. 

The problem lies in obtaining streaming rights to popular, big budget, or big studio movies.  It is almost impossible if not impossible for EKU Libraries to obtain the permission rights for these types of movies.  What is allowed?  The allowable portion according the Teach Act is up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less.

In response to this copyright dilemma, EKU Libraries has purchased films and documentaries that are already in a streaming format so that professors can easily add these types of movies into your Blackboard class.  Visit to find titles and subjects. 

Other Copyright Resources

Copyright on Campus, a video from the Copyright Clearance Center

Authors' Rights by copyright expert Ken Crews talks about managing your copyrights in this video

Know your Copy Rights-What You Can Do, a brochure from the Association of Research Libraries

Information on this website may not be substituted for formal legal advice from an attorney well versed in copyright law. This educational website is provided with the understanding that the website is not engaged in rendering legal services, or the practice of law. If you have a legal problem, you should seek the advice of experienced counsel.

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