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Copyright Reference Guide For Educators

Displays and performances

Displays and performances in face-to-face teaching (Classroom Use Exemption)

The Classroom Use Exemption, Section 110(1) of the U.S. Copyright Law, allows performance and displays of copyrighted works in a non-profit, face-to-face, in-person, classroom setting. The exemption allows activities such as:

  • displaying borrowed copy of a text or picture(s) by means of a projector

  • reading aloud from copyrighted text material; performing a motion picture or filmstrip; acting out scenes; singing or performing musical works

  • playing movies and music for students, at any length (though not from illegitimate copies)

This exemption does not cover:

  • reproducing or distributing works regardless of student use or teaching purpose. Such use of copyrighted works may sometimes be allowed under fair use

  • displaying and performing in an environment that is not in-person (not even simultaneous distance education technologies)

  • displaying and performing in for-profit contexts, or in any context that is not class-based teaching

Displays and performances in distance education (The TEACH Act)

Though the performance or display of copyrighted works in digital formats are allowed in face-to-face classroom environments, such use of copyrighted digital content has several restrictions in online teaching environments. Digital materials are more vulnerable to copyright infringement as they can be easily reproduced and widely distributed.

The TEACH Act (passed in 2002) enables performance or display of copyrighted works in distance online education settings by accredited, non-profit educational institutions. However, there are several requirements that the educational institutions intending to implement the TEACH Act are required to meet including the use of technological protection measures that prevent retention and unauthorized distribution of the work. SMCCD is in the process of developing processes to satisfy TEACH Act requirements. Until those requirements are met, SMCCD faculty may not display or transmit copyrighted works in online teaching environments. For more information about the TEACH Act and its requirements, please read Copyright Basics: The TEACH Act.