Online Courses

TEACH Act Scenarios

Scenario 1 

KCPT is a public television station in Kansas City, Missouri, which offers distance learning programs. The station has a written copyright policy and televises programs regarding U.S. copyright law to educate its viewers. In addition to using 4-way full-motion video to broadcast class sessions, the station also uses Blackboard to distribute course content to students enrolled in online classes. A statement appears on the online course's home page regarding the presence of copyrighted materials on the Web site. The station restricts the transmission of copyrighted materials to students officially enrolled in a course, according to TEACH Act institutional requirements.

Is it legal for KCPT to use copyrighted materials in its distance learning programs according to the TEACH Act?

Answer: Because a television station (even a PBS station) does not meet the requirements as an accredited nonprofit educational institution, KCPT is not allowed to use copyrighted material on the basis of the TEACH Act.

Scenario 2

North Kansas City High School is part of KC REACHE, a consortium of Kansas City community colleges and universities, which offers distance learning programs. Information Technology Services, located at the high school, is responsible for working with KC REACHE teaching faculty to publish their course content online using ANGEL software. Access to course materials is restricted to students enrolled in the class.

The instructor finds several short video clips in .avi format on a public Web site that are candidates for supplementary course materials. Online Education Support place copies of these video clips in ANGEL for the instructor each semester she teaches the course. The instructor also teaches the same course in a face-to-face classroom environment. For this course, she puts a copy of a CD-ROM containing the video clips on reserve at the library that students may check out for in library use only.

May ITS and the instructor do this under the TEACH Act?

Answer: No. The TEACH Act does not cover supplementary course materials, but instead those course materials that are a part of mediated instruction. (It would be much simpler for Online Education Support to just link to the materials that are on the Web.)

If the video clips are used as a part of mediated instruction, then other provisions of the TEACH Act could be used to determine whether or not the video clips or portions of the video clips could be copied into the ANGEL course (depending on the nature of the content). In addition, ISS would need to convert them to streaming format in order to prevent copying and distribution of the video clips outside of class.

The TEACH Act is only related to transmitting copyrighted material (as in an online course) and would not be applicable to the CD-ROM put on reserve at the library for the instructor's face-to-face course.

Scenario 3

The Mulvane Museum offers after-school art programs for youth. The children created art projects to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. A sociology professor at Washburn University created a multimedia presentation into which he inserted images of the children's art. The professor teaches an online course using ANGEL software and wants to publish his PowerPoint presentation to the course's Web site so the university students enrolled in his online class can view the artwork as they study the Brown v. Board of Education court case and discuss the role of schools as laboratories for social change. The professor has signed release forms from the parents of the children giving him permission to use the children's artwork. He knows that Washburn University meets TEACH Act institutional requirements.

Is it legal for the professor to do this under the TEACH Act?

Answer: Yes. The fact that he has signed release forms from the parents makes the TEACH Act irrelevant. Assuming the scans of the artwork were made by him (and not merely photos from the local newspaper) there are no other permissions he needs to seek to incorporate the artwork into the multimedia presentation. Because the presentation is related to studying schools as laboratories for social change, it is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission.

Scenario 4

Dr. Smithbourne teaches a Human Behavior course in Social Work at an accredited university. The course is an online course accessed by enrolled students after they authenticate themselves with a user name and password. Dr. Smithbourne starts a bulletin board discussion of Bowen's Theory and uploads a streaming audio recitation of the first of Edwin H. Friedman's Fables "The Bridge" in its entirety. She asks the students to post their responses to three questions regarding this fable on the bulletin board.

Does Dr. Smithbourne qualify to do this under the TEACH Act?

Answer: Yes. The instructor is allowed to post a "performance" of a non-dramatic literary work in its entirety. The instructor has also made certain that performance is in streaming audio format, so it meets the reasonable technological measures to prevent copying and distribution.

Scenario 5

A high school psychology teacher, Mr. Waitley, has decided to begin a discussion on the study of human behavior by asking students to listen to streaming audio clips of songs on his public Web site. The instructional media staff at the high school uses a CD owned by Mr. Waitley to encode "I Am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel in streaming audio REAL format. Mr. Waitley places the REAL Audio file on his public Web site and directs his students to his Web site.

Does Mr. Waitley qualify to do this under the TEACH Act?

Answer: No. Because these clips are on his public Web site, he is not covered by the TEACH Act. If the instructor placed the streaming audio clips within a password-protected course, accessible only to his students, he would be covered by the TEACH Act.

Scenario 6 

An Advanced Placement American History class in high school is available to students in an online password-protected Blackboard environment. The teacher, Mrs. Maine, wants to set the stage for the environment in Germany prior to World War II. Mrs. Maine owns a videotape of Swing Kids, a movie depicting the lives of young adults prior to World War II. She asks the instructional media staff to digitize a 10-minute clip of Swing Kids and then places it in her Blackboard course.

Does Mrs. Maine qualify to do this under the TEACH Act?

Answer: Yes. According to the TEACH Act, an instructor can used a "reasonable and limited portion" of a dramatic performance (for example, a film). Assuming that no digital copy (DVD) of the film is available, a portion can be digitized and uploaded into the course. However, the clip must be formatted as streaming audio to prevent copying and distribution.

Scenario 7

An instructor for an online geography course (using ANGEL) is covering the topic of volcanoes and wants to digitize a full 30-minute NOVA program titled, "Volcanoes Deadly Warning." The program was recorded off the local PBS affiliate the week before on VHS and he wants to make a REAL media streaming file of this program to give his students more information on volcanoes and signals that can warn people when a volcano is going to erupt. No DVD of the NOVA program exists.

May he do this under the TEACH act?

Answer: Yes. First, the videotape has been obtained legally according to the pbs.org off-air taping rights for classroom use. Secondly, there is no DVD of the program, making it OK to digitize the video. Finally, since this is a documentary, it is non-dramatic and so the full videotape could be digitized and placed inside the ANGEL course in streaming format.

Scenario 8

An online instructor wants to incorporate e-pack material into her course by copying the material from the sample CD-ROM given to her to review from the publisher of the e-pack.

May she do so under the TEACH act?

Answer: No. The sample material is not for distribution because it is marketed for instructional use. Copying the material would impact the sale of the publisher's e-pack.