Distance-Learning Copyright Exemptions Introduced in Senate

Distance-Learning Copyright Exemptions
Introduced in Senate

Legislation to update copyright law to permit broader use of online materials in distance education was introduced March 7 by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act (S. 487) incorporates recommendations from a study conducted by the Copyright Office as part of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It eliminates the requirement that the distance-learning instruction occur in a physical classroom, clarifies that the exemption covers temporary copies made by networked servers as part of Internet transmission, and allows educators to show portions of dramatic and musical works. The bill also directs the Copyright Office to conduct a study on the use of copyrighted works in distance-education programs.

At a March 13 hearing on the bill, Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers called the proposal “unnecessary,” “unjustifiable,” “unworkable,” and “unfair.” Among others testifying at the hearing were Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters; Gerald A. Heeger, president of the University of Maryland/College Park University College; and Richard Siddoway, principal, of the Electronic High School in Salt Lake City.

Posted March 19, 2001.