March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Copyright: Will We Always Be Behind the Times? | Tech Tidbits

TEch tid bits googleI dusted off my copyright presentation the other day, getting ready to talk to a journalism class full of juniors. The task the teacher and I were hoping to accomplish was to help the students better understand copyright and the use of digital images in their online blog magazine publications.

As I prepared, just for fun, I pulled the books on copyright that I have as resources for staff in our professional collection. I am embarrassed to tell you that the first thing I found was NEA’s Copyright Primer for Librarians and Educators from 1995! I then proudly pulled out Copyright Clarity by Renee Hobbs only to discover that it is already almost six years old!

This jarred me into thinking, once again, how rapidly digital creation tools evolve and how, just as rapidly, we need to revisit how we think about copyright. My students are creating 3D models in the Makerspace, and they are writing code and designing circuits. They are creating music, original works, and images that they post to the Internet. What do they understand about copyright and what do they need to learn?

I know our students need the tools and knowledge to critically question and consider how works they create or use dramatically impact others. They will be the ones interpreting copyright law now and in the future.

With the help of Common Sense Media and Hobbs’s Copyright Clarity Media Education Lab resources, I was off and running for my lesson. My collaborating teacher had found a nice site from Blog Basics: Copyright and Fair Use that the students reviewed before we met. We began by defining copyright as defined in Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote creativity, innovation and the spread of knowledge.”

“Is everything copyrighted?” one student queried. Yes! And if we want to use it, we need to find out who owns it, get permission, and possibly pay for it, give credit to the author, and then use it responsibly. But sometimes there are exceptions. Here is a link to the presentation, a Google slideshow that I used with students. Feel free to use or adapt as needed.

We discussed Fair use (which most of you probably have memorized). We must teach students to consider the purpose of use, the nature of copyrighted work, the amount used, and the effect their use will have on the market. Each step is vital, because it involves students thinking critically about these issues and the extent to which they might have transformed or used the work.

Additionally, the teens were interested to know that licensing groups like Creative Commons (who released their first set of copyright licenses late in 2002) allow creators to share their products legally in a variety of ways, thereby controlling the use of the works they create.

Using this information, students used Google to search for images labeled for reuse. We explored Creative Commons Search for images, videos, and music. For images, we tried Pixabay, UnSplash, and Pexels and discovered how to look for the licensing and attribution in order to properly cite each item.

For me, I was happy that people much smarter than I have provided resources. Hobbs is still fighting for educators by providing Lesson plans for teaching Fair Use in the classroom. She has also created a Slideshare that explains Using Copyrighted Materials and Digital Learning to fellow teachers. Her blog has some wonderful posts, including ripping DVD’s for educational purposes from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Students are ready to be actively involved in this conversation. They are already contributing their creations on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat as well as their blogs and magazines for class. They need to be aware that they should protect the information they create, as well as ethically use information created by others.

The reality is that we will always be playing catch up when it comes to copyright issues. As the volume of available information expands, we will continually need to evaluate the ethical use of information. In the realm of education, we must teach students that they should distinguish between what they create and what they are using from an outside source. We must all be diligent in giving credit where credit is due.

See also:
3-D Printers: Understanding Copyright, Fair Use, and More
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Phil Goerner About Phil Goerner

Phil Goerner is the teacher librarian and tech innovator at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, CO. He can be found on Twitter @pgoerner. Phil is also an adjunct professor with University of Colorado at Denver in the School Library and Instructional Leadership program.

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  1. Lucia Greenberg says:

    I looked up U.S. Constitution, Article 1, S.8. Upon reading the passage I did not see the quote mentioned above, regarding copyright. I think the way this was worded in your article is misleading. I did see “To promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…” What you quoted must be your interpretation of the quote I included?