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Copyright at DMU: Copyright Law

Des Moines University's copyright policy, procedures for documenting fair use, and other helpful resources

Copyright Components

When considering whether a proposed use falls within current copyright law, it is important to be aware of the three major laws that make up current copyright legality:

  1. The Copyright Act of 1976
  2. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998
  3. The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) of 2002.

Copyright Act of 1978

While it is designed to protect the rights of the copyright holder, the Copyright Act of 1978 does recognize the needs of students, scholars, and educators, and provides a fair use clause exempting some kinds of use from the need for permissions. (See the Determining Fair Use tab.)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was created to address concerns regarding international recognition of copyright, as well as provide protections for Internet Service Providers should someone use their systems to break copyright law.

Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) of 2002 provides guidance on the use of certain copyrighted materials in distance learning.  To learn more about the TEACH Act and the uses it does and does not cover in distance learning, check out these resources:

TEACH Act Requirements in a Nutshell

Materials and Access and Protection Requirements:

  1. Access to the materials is limited to only those enrolled in the class.
  2. The materials are available only for the duration of the class session.
  3. To the extent possible, technological protections are implemented to prevent students from retaining and further distributing course materials.
  4. The materials must contain a notice stating that they may be subject to copyright protections.

Other Requirements:

  1. The use of the materials is an integral part of the class session.
  2. The use of the materials is directly related to the teaching content.
  3. The use of the materials is comparable to what takes place in an in-person classroom setting.
  4. Use of the materials is made by, at direction of, or under the actual supervision of the instructor.

If all eight of these requirements are not met, the fair use exception may still cover the use.

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