September 3, 2003

Deans and Faculty:

Last November, President Bush signed into law the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act. The TEACH Act revised and expanded parts of the U.S. Copyright Law governing the conditions under which faculty may use copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner and without payment of royalties. Since our faculty produces a great amount of copyrighted material each year, we are sensitive to the importance of not infringing on others’ copyrighted materials. Let me summarize a couple of key points about how the TEACH Act affects faculty.

The focus of the TEACH Act is “distance education,” but its requirements apply to all online learning, not just to our World Campus. An important requirement is that if you are using copyrighted materials in your courses, you must ensure that access is restricted to students who are enrolled in your courses. If you are using ANGEL, then this requirement is easy to meet, but if you are not, you must still ensure that the materials are password protected and restricted only to registered students.

An especially complicated issue is “fair use.” How can you determine if your use of copyrighted material meets the requirements of “fair use”? There is no simple answer, so I ask that you read carefully the materials that we have assembled to help you answer the question. I believe that the Penn State website will answer many of your questions, but I’m sure that new questions will also arise. For this reason, we will offer seminars both on copyright and the TEACH Act, so I encourage you to attend them. For registration information, visit the ITS Training Services page. The seminars are now open for registration, and a seminar on the TEACH Act will be offered on Tuesday, September 16 at 3:30 p.m., and Wednesday, October 22, at 1:30 p.m.

I would also encourage you to send questions via email to teachact@psu.edu. We are very interested to know what kinds of questions and issues are being raised as we implement the TEACH Act this year, and we will be sure to address your questions promptly.

With all best wishes for a successful new year,

Rodney A. Erickson

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