As today's tech-savvy teens become increasingly involved with technology and the Internet for learning, work, civic engagement, and entertainment, it is vital to ensure that they understand their legal rights and responsibilities under copyright law and also how the law affects creativity and innovation.

This curriculum is designed to give teachers a comprehensive set of tools to educate students about copyright while incorporating activities that exercise a variety of learning skills. Lesson topics include: the history of copyright law; the relationship between copyright and innovation; fair use and its relationship to remix culture; peer-to-peer file sharing; and the interests of the stakeholders that ultimately affect how copyright is interpreted by copyright owners, consumers, courts, lawmakers, and technology innovators.

The lesson plan concludes with a mock trial that tests the students' understanding of copyright and its limitations and encourages them to consider the positions of each party involved.

Unit Goals

  • Educate students about copyright law, including the concepts of fair use, free speech, and the public domain.
  • Explore the relationship between copyright law and innovation, showing how the courts and lawmakers have struggled to build a legal framework to both compensate artists and encourage innovative uses of creative works and new technologies.
  • Help students understand their legal rights and responsibilities with respect to copyright and technology use.

Objectives for Students

  • Critical and creative thinking: brainstorming, analyzing historical and contemporary sources, and questioning group and individual assumptions.
  • Social skills: collaborating with peers.
  • Communication: participating in group discussions, debates, class projects, and role-play; demonstrating comprehension by commenting (orally and in writing) on the material clearly and effectively.
  • Research: collecting, organizing, and synthesizing data from various sources (scholastic articles, commercial news sources, Internet, video/film, music, art, and literature).

How to Read the Curriculum

Each lesson plan begins with an overview and Notes for the Educator. These sections provide background information about the lesson topic; additional context about related issues, events, and controversies; and additional information about the activities outlined later in the lesson plan.

The Resources section gives a list of the materials and Teaching Copyright handouts relevant to each lesson. The list is divided into three sections: resources for the educator; resources used by students in class; and resources used by the students for homework. The Resources section also lists web-accessible readings.

Finally, the Lesson Activities section outlines each lesson's combination of games, discussions, worksheets, and homework designed to advance the students' understanding of the lesson topic and engage students' critical thinking and research skills. Some lessons feature extension ideas that can be used by educators interested in deepening the students' involvement with a particular lesson.

Lesson List (60 minutes each)

Teaching Copyright Handouts and Support Documents


Student evaluation will be based on individual participation in class discussions, group research and presentations, homework assignments, and written and verbal participation in the final class project.

Relevant Education Standards