Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Teach about Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons in 3 Steps

Have you ever been confused about Copyright Law and Fair Use? It's definitely a difficult topic with many gray areas. It's easy to feel it's a topic that's too confusing to tackle with students. Hopefully, this post will make you think differently. I've created a lesson that helps break down Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons in a kid-friendly way!

For a quick overview of the lesson, here's a Copyright, Fair Use, & CC HyperDoc that I've created that can help guide students. 

Step #1: Teach about Copyright and Fair Use

Here's a Common Sense Media Copyright and Fair Use Animation that was created for high school students, but if used with some discussion and teacher guidance, I think it's totally appropriate to use with upper elementary and middle school students. 

Key Points of the Video:
  • 5 ways to avoid violating Copyright Law
    1. Check who owns it
    2. Ask for permission
    3. Buy it (if necessary)
    4. Give credit to the creator
    5. Use it responsibly
*Students really understand this process and it makes sense if you talk about each step with them in order. Try role playing an example where one student took a picture that another student REALLY wants to use in their next school project. The class discussion should help students understand how important it is to have permission to use the work and give the creator attribution.
    In the event that it's impossible to get permission for copyrighted work, that's when the Fair Use doctrine can be used.
    • 4 points of Fair Use that you should follow
      • Only use a small amount
      • Rework it in a totally different way
      • Give it a new meaning
      • Use for non-profit
      • *It's good practice to give credit to the creator
    After watching the video, I have the students work with their table group to sort cards into the correct categories before discussing the key points with them. After that discussion, I like to point out to students that it's a long process with a lot of steps if they want to make sure that they are not violating the law. If students want to avoid even thinking about breaking the law using copyrighted work, it's important that they know about the Creative Commons!

    Step #2: Teach about the Creative Commons

    What if you didn't have to follow all of those steps and people just shared their work so others could use it? The answer to that question is the Creative Commons (CC)! 

    I find that this video, Wanna Work Together, is a good way to show students that we are all creators and that the Creative Commons was created so that work can be shared and used by others for FREE. 

    To connect all of these points together, I have students search the Creative Commons and practice finding a CC license. I also teach students how to use the Google search tools to filter out images that are labeled for reuse. Once they learn how to filter the images. I teach them how to look for the Creative Commons license. That license explains how we can use the creator's work. 

    I want students thinking that unless they can find the Creative Commons license, assume that it is copyrighted work

    Step #3: Have Students Practice Citing Media Sources

    For a step-by-step presentation of this lesson, with an activity that gets students to practice citing media sources properly, check out my Google Slide Presentation: Copyright & Fair Use. The background information in this post should help teachers get through the lesson by simply running through the slides with students. Giving them access to the Copyright, Fair Use, & CC HyperDoc will help guide them through the lesson. The Doc links to the practice activity. Answers can be found HERE

    If you have any questions, or would like me to come to your classroom to help with this lesson, feel free to email me. It's important to teach these skills starting in 3rd grade. Once students understand how the Creative Commons helps avoid Copyright Law, searching for media and citing those sources properly becomes second nature to them. This is a great digital citizenship lesson that will help students become successful as they continue on to college and their future careers.

    (*For a modified middle school lesson on this same topic, please go to our USD Learns Digital Citizenship 6-8 page.)