Students are asked to reflect on who owns their creative works from this class, such as their pixel images, before reading an article describing how ownership can become complicated as analog works become digital artifacts. After reading the article, students watch several videos explaining copyright and introducing them to the Creative Commons. Students then re-read the article answering three questions about the benefits, harms, and impacts of current copyright policy. Students use their new understanding of copyright to form an opinion about current copyright policies and create a small poster justifying their opinion with a quote from the article.


Students will be able to:


Students have been examining how digital information is created and stored, but they have not closely examined the question of who owns their digital data and what rules govern how that information can be shared. This lesson introduces the concept of copyright by presenting students with an article that challenges their current understanding of digital ownership and makes them wrestle with some of the complexities of owning and sharing digital information. It's important for students to talk through their ideas and hear the perspectives of their peers as they try to unpack how copyright law can impact society. Ultimately, students begin to form their own opinions about copyright focusing on how these policies impact the world around us and observing who benefits and who is harmed in particular copyright situations.

This lesson is also a scaffold to the larger project that begins after this lesson which includes several tasks that are also a part of this lesson such as, annotating an article, answering questions, and forming an opinion using the article as evidence. Students may need support with these processes during this lesson so they are able to complete the following lesson independently. It is especially important that students use marking the text strategies to help them comprehend and synthesize the information from their article, because they will need to do this in the next lesson as well.


Getting Started

Prompt: Imagine you were using some of our pixelation tools to create an image and you posted it online for your friends to see - but, a week later you find out someone took that image and put it on a T-shirt that they're selling for $10 each. How would you feel in this situation?


Discussion Goal

This discussion doesn't need to come to a definite conclusion - it should generate more questions than answers. You can complicate this discussion by asking:

  • What if the owner gives you credit for the drawing on the T-shirt - does that make it more or less okay?
  • If we use the pixelation widget, then our image is just a binary number that's been transformed into an image - can we really "own" a number?
  • What if, instead of this happening a week later, it happened 20 years later. Does that change anything?


Activity Part 1: Read the Article

Distribute: Article - Fortnite Stealing Dance Moves

Teaching Tip

You may find that a topic about digital copyright is in the news when you are teaching this lesson. It may be appropriate and relevant to use those news events in addition to, or instead of, the article in this lesson plan. Any article you use should:

  • Discuss the complexities of owning and sharing digital information
  • Explore who benefits or is harmed by policies around copyright

If you find current news stories that also cover these points, you may want to consider using those articles here.

Do This: Students read the article. After they are finished reading they should mark up the text with the following:

Teaching Tip

This lesson is written assuming that you have printed out the article and have it physically available for students to write on, even though it is also possible to have students interact with this text digitally. If students read the article digitally, it is most important that they still follow the active reading strategies outlined in this lesson - interacting with the text and summarizing. This may require some additional time & instruction to teach students your preferred tools of digital annotation, or you can ask students to record quotes in their journal or notes rather than highlight them. You can use these same adjustments for some of the later annotation strategies in this lesson.

Prompt: This article brings up issues around copyright. Based on what you've read and your own experiences, what questions do you have about copyright?

Discussion Goal

This discussion continues to generate questions and spark student curiosity based on the article. Ultimately we will present students with a focused question to continue the lesson, but this lets students voice their ideas and concerns with the class. It can be helpful to keep these questions & concerns in mind as the lesson continues and return to them when you can.

Prompt: Are our current copyright policies helping society or hurting society?

Activity Part 2: Copyright Overview


Teaching Tip

The videos in this section are sourced from the Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens Curriculum. Credit to the Internet Education Foundation and iKeepSafe for these videos.

Activity Part 3: Article Re-read


Prompt: Consider our earlier prompt again -- are our current copyright policies helping society or hurting society?

Do This: Have students re-read the article in order to answer these questions:

Students should continue to annotate or record quotes from the article to do the following:

Teaching Tip

Activity Repetition: This aspect of the lesson - reading an article and looking at these questions - is repeated in tomorrow's lesson as well. Students are presented with a different set of articles to examine and must also identify benefits, harms, and impacts. Having them complete this same task today acts as a scaffold to prepare students to read an article with purpose. As you circulate and work with students, offer reading tips and strategies that will help them complete this similar task independently tomorrow.

Prompt: Share some of the sentences you annotated. Did everyone identify the same areas?

Wrap Up


Do This:

Teaching Tip

Creating the Artifact: This is another aspect of the lesson that will be repeated in tomorrow's project - students will create an artifact that will be displayed for their peers to see, and this artifact must also include references to the text they read. Displaying the artifacts from today's lesson acts as a model for what students will be expected to do independently in tomorrow's lesson.

Circulate: Check in with students and encourage them to use one of their highlighted sentences as evidence for their opinion. As students finish, they hang them in a public space edge-to-edge like a quilt to form a larger tapestry of opinions about copyright with evidence. This class artifact can hang in the classroom as a reference for the next few lessons.


Assessment: Check for Understanding

Question: How is a Creative Commons license different from a regular copyright?

Question: Now that we understand Copyright, what would need to change in order for the scenario from the warm-up to be okay? As a reminder, here was the scenario from the warm-up: Imagine you were using some of our pixelation tools to create an image and you posted it online for your friends to see - but, a week later you find out someone took that image and put it on a T-shirt that they're selling for $10 each.

Standards Alignment