We live in a digital culture that empowers young people to access information instantly, rework media easily, and share their creations globally. But the ease with which young people can find, copy, and distribute digital content can also lead them to use online material without thinking about where it comes from or to whom it belongs. Viewing the Internet as a "free-for-all" leads to problems of copyright infringement, plagiarism, piracy, and a general lack of respect for the hard work and creativity of others. The basic fact is this: Even if something is posted on the Internet for all the world to see, someone somewhere created that picture, song, or article -- and it belongs to that person.
Why Teach It
Help your students …
- learn about their rights to their own copyrighted work;
- identify how they can use copyrighted work without permission through public domain and fair use;
- and understand that piracy and plagiarism are forms of copyright infringement that are unethical and unlawful.
By focusing on young people's roles as digital creators, you can encourage your students to take responsibility for positively shaping the creative online culture of which they are a part. They may not realize that copying and pasting material they find online into schoolwork without citing it is plagiarism. They may not understand that illegally downloading and sharing music, videos, and software is a form of stealing called piracy. With your guidance, your students can learn to respect the copyrights of others, as well as how to protect, receive acknowledgement for, and share their own original creations.