Advocacy work regarding fair use and protected, online teaching environment

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  • Hello, I'm wondering if there is any fair use advocacy work being done towards addressing the antiquated interpretation of the difference in f2f teaching environments and protected, online teaching environments in a LMS.

    I know of the TEACH Act, of course, but it falls short of addressing the growing demand for use of online media in online learning. The same rules for watching a film in a f2f class don't apply to the online teaching environment, even though it's in an authenticated, password protected environment.

    Where, if at all, is the advocacy work being done on this issue? Who can I contact to learn more?

    Thanks for any ideas or feedback!

  • When looking to make copyrighted works accessible to students as part of online/distance education you can consider both fair use (17 USC 107) and the TEACH Act (17 USC 110(2)). Section One of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries addresses libraries making course-related content available to enrolled students via digital networks under the auspices of fair use. Keep in mind that these Best Practices do not hold the force of law, but do reflect "views of the library community about best practices in fair use, drawn from the actual practices and experience of the library community itself" (quoted from the document). This version of the Code (there are many!) may be useful to you as well: Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators.

    Please let me know if you have any specific questions about the TEACH Act that I may be able to answer if you wish to consider utilizing that exception as well!


  • In terms of advocacy - that is changing the law to reflect the current nature of the 21st century classroom - we try to explain the teaching environment to legislators when we visit staff on the HIll.  We tell the staffers that the TEACH Act was a problem the minute that it was passed, and tell them that many just ignore TEACH and rely completely on fair use. 

    The potential for actually changing the law is low.  Stakeholders cannot agree and Congress will not pass legislation where there is no consensus.  However, I recall hearing about someone (or some people) looking to amend the TEACH Act - they may be from the educational associations - but I have not heard anything definitive.

    Of course, the best way to get Congress to act on anything is to write to your Congress person or Senator especially if they are on the Judiciary Committees which have jurisdiction over copyright.  Tell them how the law does not work, what kind of problems you face.  If you can get several people to write a letter about this to any one legislator, they may take notice.




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