images.pngCopyright in the Curriculum

So why do teachers need to know about copyright?

The simple answer is that teachers need to be setting the example of being a good digital citizen to students. By copying, pasting, modifying, repurposing, and sharing resources ethically themselves teachers model how to make copyright work in a positive way.

Why do students need to be explicitly taught about copyright and ethical use of information?

It is the role of the teacher to develop independent and ethical users of information so that they can enhance their collaboration and connection digitally with their world of learning. To meet ethical and legal obligations, students need to know about copyright laws, fair use guidelines, Creative Commons, intellectual property and correct referencing.

The increasing use of digital learning environments means that teachers and students are utilising more digital content that ever before. Increasingly knowledge and evidence of learning is being shared through online spaces and web applications. This requires a thorough understanding of what can be sourced, what can be used, remixed and how can it be shared. Students may not realise that copying and pasting material they find online into their assignments without citing it is plagiarism. Students may not understand that illegally downloading and sharing music, videos, and software is a form of stealing called piracy. With teacher guidance, students can learn to respect the copyrights of others, as well as how to protect, receive acknowledgement for, and share their own original creations.

Creating and becoming global digital citizensThis is our challenge.

What is happening in the classroom today?

Image used with permission from Fahan Senior Library

Re-cap: Benefits of Creative Commons for teachers and students
  • A source of material that can be legally used beyond the limits of Part VB and s200AB
  • Collaborate and share material you own with other teachers, students, the world
  • Creative Commons teach students about what they can do with copyright material (not just what they can’t)

Ok – so you are thinking, I get it but where do I start?

Firstly, it is important to embed ethical practices into the whole school curriculum. Copyright cannot be taught as a stand-alone topic in the library once a year. It needs to be part of every subject and be expected for teachers and students. The teacher-librarian is available to help you plan and resource your lessons, and can assist in the classroom to guide students.

Ideally your school will implement a whole school digital citizenship program with copyright as one aspect of this.

Here is an example of a curriculum from Common Sense Media.

Next – become an expert yourself.


Activity 1 – Can you find an image to use in your own work?


  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Using a search tool find an image of your choice, perhaps something related to a unit of work you are doing at the moment, that has a Creative Commons license attached to it that allows you to reuse the image in your own work.
  3. Add this image to the Google Doc.
  4. Correctly attribute the source.

Activity 2 - Can you use the license generator to add a Creative Commons license to your own work?


  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Add a Creative Commons License that allows others to reuse and modify

Reflection on own practice and understanding to this point.

Made with Padlet

Back Next