The full text of US Copyright law - known as Title 17 - is available online from the US Copyright Office. Highlighted here are parts of the law that commonly relate to higher education.
The Classroom Use Exemption is found in section 110(1) of US copyright law. This exemption allows for the performance and display of works in class for educational purposes. Performing plays or showing films in class fall under the 110(1) Exemption. However, for this exemption to apply, you must meet certain requirements.
The requirements are:
Making copies of work for your class does not fall under this exemption. Performance and display of works in an online environment are not covered under this exemption either. For online environments, look at the TEACH Act.
Portions of this section are adapted from "Exceptions and Limitations" from University of MN Copyright Services (CC-BY-NC 3.0)
The TEACH Act of 2002 updated section 110(2) of copyright law, and it was designed for online learning environments. The act tries to extend the rights of a physical classroom to an online classroom, although there are many more limitations to the TEACH Act than the Classroom Exemption.
The TEACH Act allows:
22 conditions that must be met for the TEACH Act to apply. Some conditions are for the university, such as being a nonprofit accredited institution. Other conditions are at the classroom level, such as limiting access to the students enrolled in the class. Using an LMS like Canvas can help meet some of these conditions.
To see if your use meets all of the conditions, see the basic TEACH Act checklist.
Section 110(2) can be useful, and is designed for educators to have more rights in an online classroom. However it is very limited, and fair use can still be relied on when section 110(2) does not meet your needs.
Portions of this section are adapted from "Copyright Crash Course: TEACH Act" from University of Texas Libraries (CC-BY-NC 2.0)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in 1998, and attempted to address some of the copyright difficulties caused by the internet and new technology. There are two sections of the DMCA that commonly impact users: the anti-circumvention provisions, and the safe harbor for service providers.