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Copyright basics


This online lesson helps students independently learn the basics of copyright law and the exceptions to it. After a brief tutorial, students will then either draw or create an online infographic explaining what they have learned. 


  • Students will have a basic understanding of copyright law.
  • Students will understand exceptions to copyright law exists.
  • Students will demonstrate basic understanding of copyright law.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1.aIntroduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9.bApply grades 11-12 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning [e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court Case majority opinions and dissents] and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy [e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses]”).


Two Activities

Materials / resources

YouTube Copyright video or Student Press Law Center’s Copyright video 

Assignment description (Details in Activity 2 and on rubric)

Resource: What is What is Copyright 

Rubric for infographic/top 10 list

Lesson step-by-step

Activity 1 — Video and preparatory message

Teachers should post a small description of copyright. It could be something like this:

“This activity will introduce you to copyright through a video. The short video will explain the basics of copyright. Please know this complicated topic can easily be misapplied by many professionals (such as the notion you can take just a few seconds of a song and it’s not a copyright violation). Remember, this serves as a basic beginning to understanding.”

Resources for further knowledge can be seen at the bottom of the Resource: What is What is Copyright link. 

Teachers should upload either the YouTube Copyright video or Student Press Law Center’s Copyright video (depending on your student level). When finished with the video, students should read the information at the What is Copyright link.

Activity 2 — Assessment

Students will create their own graphic of your understanding including a headline, visual, basic definition, student journalism link, and exceptions to copyright law. Please put your sources at the bottom right-hand corner. Students could either use an online infographic app or draw it and take a picture to upload or send to the teacher.

If students have not studied infographics yet or if you are worried the assignment is too much for them, teachers could simplify the assignment by asking students to make a Top 10 list of what they learned from the selected video.

Teachers, please post the rubric with the assignment description. The rubric has the top option, but you could easily replace it for the second if desired.


The differentiation is in the video selected and assignment given. 

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