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Learning Library Blog 4 resources to help students — and teachers — understand copyright law
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4 resources to help students — and teachers — understand copyright law

By Rachelle Dene Poth
January 10, 2020
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As educators, we provide opportunities for students to research and create using new media and technologies.

When students create a presentation, make a video or write a report, it is important that they understand not only how to evaluate the sources of information, but also how to properly cite where they obtained the information. Students also need to understand how to access information, repurpose various media and create their own works while respecting the laws of copyright.

It’s our job to model responsible use for students and guide them to find resources.

As Kerry Gallagher, assistant principal for teaching and learning at St. John's Prep in Massachusetts, explains in this ISTE2019 presentation, understanding copyright law not only keeps students on the right side of the law, it also helps them protect their own work. 


Learning about copyright

Keeping track of copyright law can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are quite a few quality resources to help you ensure that your students are practicing good digital citizenship. Here are my five favorite resources for understanding and teaching copyright law:

Common Sense Education

This is the education arm of Common Sense Media. It provides resources and activities that help students develop a better understanding of copyright as well as topics related to digital citizenship. Some of the activities include self-directed activities, where students respond to prompts that help them to navigate through online safety and copyright issues. The site also offers a series of videos that can help students and educators understand the ins and outs of copyright.


This site, which earned the ISTE Seal of Alignment for Readiness, allows students to learn 21 themes related to using digital media, several of which cover copyright and other ethical issues. Students watch a video and then work through a series of tasks to achieve a goal and level of completion. For some tasks, students can earn badges and print a certificate.

Internet Education Foundation

This site provides resources and lessons to help students learn their rights and responsibilities under copyright and fair-use laws. The emphasis is on helping students become good critical thinkers and active contributors and savvy consumers of digital media.


This paid resource for educators has an entire section on copyright and fair use. Educators can post assignments on movie-making, coding and more that help students learn about copyright. Students then complete various activities, like making a video, that demonstrate their understanding of copyright and fair use while allowing them to express their creativity.

As educators, it is our responsibility to provide opportunities for students to interact online, to be creative and to develop the digital literacy skills they need for the future. To do this, we need to provide resources and teach them how to better understand copyright law.

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Rachelle Dene Poth is a Spanish and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in instructional technology and is communications chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network, president-elect of the Teacher Education Network and the PAECT historian. She was selected as the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT (the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications in Technology, an ISTE affiliate) and by the NSBA as one of the "20 Educators to Watch." Follow her on Twitter @Rdene915.

This is an updated version of a post that first published on November 16, 2017.