Lesson Plan


At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • List the exclusive rights of copyright holders
  • Decide if a case falls within fair use guidelines
  • Determine whether or not something is copyrightable
  • Explain how to obtain a copyright
  • Identify works online that are licensed under Creative Commons
  • Identify works online that are in the public domain
  • Evaluate copyright laws for fairness as they apply to modern technology, including the internet and mobile devices such as ebook readers and mp3 players.

Required Materials

Video: Queen’s Under Pressure
Video: Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby

Ten myths about copyrights
Software Pirates in China (New York Times)


Teaching Procedure

  1. Show the class a video of Queen’s Under Pressure, followed by a video of Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby. Let the student decide if a copyright violation occurred. The courts decided that this was NOT in fact a copyright violation.
  2. Have a class discussion on the purpose of copyright laws, using the PowerPoint presentation as a springboard.
  3. Provide notes to the students on the topics of: copyrightability, how to obtain a copyright, exclusive rights, and fair use.
  4. Have the students read the Ten Myths of Copyright and summarize each one.
  5. Have the students read the article on software piracy in China and answer the accompanying questions.
  6. Provide students with notes on the Creative Commons license. Provide examples of CC licensed work on Wikipedia and Flickr.
  7. Provide students with notes on public domain works. Have students try to find public domain works online through Wikipedia and Google Images.
  8. Lead a class discussion on illegal digital file sharing using services such as (formerly) Napster and LimeWire and software such as BitTorrent. Use the PowerPoint on Digital Priacy as a guide.
  9. Lead a discussion evaluating copyright laws in the digital age, using these discussion questions as a springboard.
  10. Have students take the Copyright Quiz.

For full projects and source code, download the updated version of our Introduction to Web Design Curriculum.