Virtual Instruction

Copyrighted works can be used for virtual instruction but some of the rules are different from those of in person classroom instruction.

Virtual instruction is when a course is taught either solely online or when components of face-to-face instruction are taught online, such as with Brightspace and other course management systems. Virtual instruction includes digitally transmitting class materials to students. Copyrighted works can be used when teaching virtually by applying exceptions authorized under the U.S. Copyright Act. Either fair use or the education exception known as TEACH (or both) can be used.

Content for Videotaped and Streaming Lectures



Incorporating images that the instructor did not create into a PowerPoint presentation or sharing by some other tool is allowed but should be integral to the course subject matter.

Audio and Video

Audio and Video

Short clips of audio and video incorporated into online lectures are generally allowed. Entire works should not be imbedded into the lecture materials. If an entire movie, video or song is needed, then students should be directed to use a legal streaming service.



Links are the best way to incorporate material into online courses. It is much better to link to a work rather than reproduce and share it. There are generally no copyright issues with linking provided the link is to a legal copy on a legal site.

  • Copies of materials that are electronically available through Purdue Libraries such as journal articles should not be uploaded to Brightspace but instead a link should be provided.
  • ​If a web site has the latest movies or television shows and it is not a subscription based service then it is probably an illegal site that should be avoided.

Course Materials

The Purdue Libraries subscribe to many electronic resources such as journals, books, data and audiovisual materials. Check out the Libraries website for access to these resources. Click here for information on course reserves.


  • ​Only share course content with the students enrolled in the course.
  • ​Do not post course content to general websites.

Copyright rules differ if the instructor wants to share the content that was created for an online course beyond the virtual classroom. A fair use analysis must be conducted.

TEACH Exception

The basic premise behind TEACH is to allow comparable instruction in the online environment as to what takes place in a traditional classroom or face-to-face instruction.

One of the major requirements of the law is that materials can only be digitally transmitted to students officially registered in the course. There are other requirements for teaching, technology, and course materials that instructors must meet as well before using the TEACH exception.

TEACH Requirements for Instructors

Instructors must meet all of the following teaching requirements to qualify for the TEACH exception. If all the requirements are not met, then apply the fair use exception.

  • ​The performance or display of materials is an integral part of the class session.
  • ​The performance or display of materials is directly related to the teaching content.
  • ​The performance or display of materials is comparable to what takes place in a live classroom setting.
  • ​The performance or display is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of the instructor.
  • ​The class is offered as a regular part of Purdue University’s curriculum.

TEACH Requirements for Technology

Many course management systems include most of the technological protections that are necessary to comply with the TEACH Act. However, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the following requirements are met:

  • ​Only the students officially enrolled in the class may have access to the materials.
  • ​The materials are available to the students only for the duration of the class session.
  • ​To the extent technologically possible, technological protections have been implemented to prevent students from retaining and further distributing the course materials.

Instructors must meet all of the above teaching requirements to qualify for the TEACH exception. If all the requirements are not met, then apply the fair use exception.

TEACH Requirements for Course Materials

The following materials may be transmitted under the TEACH exception:

  • ​Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works.
  • ​Performances of limited and reasonable portions of dramatic literary and musical works, audiovisual works, and sound recordings.
  • ​Displays of works but only in an amount comparable to what would be displayed in a live classroom setting (e.g., images like photographs and slides).
  • ​Materials that can be considered supplementary and would not be used in a live classroom setting (e.g., recommended readings).

The following materials may not be transmitted under the TEACH exception:

  • ​Materials that are specifically marketed for educational use (e.g. textbooks).
  • ​Materials that are typically purchased by students for their research and classroom use (e.g., textbooks, coursepacks).
  • ​Illegal copies of materials.

Other Requirements for Materials

  • ​The materials must contain a notice stating that they may be subject to copyright protection.
  • ​If there is no digital version available, then an analog version can be converted to digital but only in the amount that is needed.

If the instructor’s use of course materials exceeds the above requirements, then the fair use exception should be applied.