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April 11, 2013 / JaymeJ

Teaching 6th Graders About Copyright and Fair Use

Unit Overview

Using lessons created by Common Sense Media, 6th grade students will create a remixed video that abides by copyright law. Students will follow fair use guidelines and/or use materials licensed under Creative Commons.

Week 1: A Creator’s Rights

  • Discuss “Why Copyright?”
  • Examine Case Study – Nicole’s Story: Copyrighting Creative Work
  • Introduce key vocabulary
  • “Happy Birthday” activity

Week 2: Creative Commons and Fair Use

  • Review Creative Commons symbols (from “Creator’s Rights” lesson)
  • Define and discuss Fair Use
  • Examine Case Studies – Scary Mary; DJ Earworm’s “United State of Pop 2009”
  • Discuss and debate – Do these fall under “fair use”?

Weeks 3 & 4: Make it Fair Use or Copyright Compliant

  • Using copyrighted materials or Creative Commons licensed content, create a Remix Video.

Week 5: Share Remix Videos

A Creator’s Rights

A Creator’s Rights (6-8), Common Sense Media

Nicole’s Story – Copyrighting Creative Work
Who’s is it, Anyway?

Rework, Reuse, Remix – Part 1

Rework, Reuse, Remix (6-8), Common Sense Media

Please note: Videos below display suggested videos at the end. Content is not always school appropriate. Teachers may want to pause video at end.

 Rework & Remix Student Handout:

Excerpts from “Copyright, Plagiarism, and Digital Literacy” (by Sue Lyon-Jones)”

What is meant by the term ‘public domain’?

Public domain is a term that applies to creative works which can be re-used by anyone in any way that they please, and for any purpose. Unless there is a notice attached to a particular piece of work that specifically states it is in the public domain, you should assume that it isn’t; and even if there is such a notice, you should still proceed with caution. 

What is creative commons?

Creative commons is a system for licensing copyrighted work under a variety of different conditions. Creative commons licensing is widely misunderstood. Some people seem to think that creative commons is the same thing as public domain, but this is not the case, and there are important differences.  If you plan to use work that has been licensed under creative commons, make sure you read the license attached to it first and comply with the conditions of use, to avoid unintentionally breaching the author’s copyright.

The table below explains the meanings of the symbols used in creative commons licenses:

Creative Commons License with Icons

Tips for good practice when re-using other people’s work:

  • Always check that you have permission to use work that others have created, and ask for permission before you use it
  • Remember to credit your sources
  • Provide a web link to online sources, whenever possible
  • Check that you understand any conditions attached to creative commons work you use, and make sure that you comply with them
  • Make sure you clearly reference any quotes you use, and link back to the original article
  • If you do find yourself in a position where you have forgotten to give someone credit, apologize and make an effort to put things right. Most reasonable people will be happy with that

Four Points of Fair Use

Fair Use: The ability to use copyrighted work without permission, but only in certain ways and in specific situations.

If creative work falls into at least one category   AND     fulfills one of the criteria, there’s a good chance it’s fair use!

  1. Schoolwork and education
  2. News reporting
  3. Criticizing or commenting
  4. Comedy and parody

  1. Use a small amount
  2. Add new meaning and make it original
  3. Use for nonprofit purpose
  4. Rework and use in a different way

Fair Use by Kathy Schrock

A Fair(y) Use Tale

Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

*Description taken from and video found at *

Rework, Reuse, Remix – Part 2

Make it Fair Use or Copyright Compliant

 Rework & Remix Assignment Handout :

Using copyrighted materials or Creative Commons licensed content, create a Remix Video.

Use Masher is a free, easy-to-use video remix tool that offers “royalty free” (public domain) music and video content from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Additional materials can be found via sites on the Multimedia page. These images, video, and music can be uploaded to and remixed using the “Studio” editing tool. You may also use the royalty-free content on

Week 3:

  1. Login to Masher. (Your login info will be provided by Mrs. Johnson)
  2. Watch the tutorial video.
  3. Watch two Mashes from the gallery.
  4. Identify purpose of your video, the target audience, and topic choice.
  5. Begin gathering media

Week 4:

  1. Create a 1-2 minute video using that includes: special effects, music, text, videos, and photographs.
  2. Organize photos, videos, and other media
  3. Create text to match photos
  4. Add in effects and skins
  5. Embed music
  6. Compile and save videoHomework: Write a justification as to why your video meets Copyright and Fair Use guidelines.

Week 5: Share Remix Videos


Rework & Remix Rubric

Lesson Resources:

ICS Middle School Rework, Reuse, Remix Project Part 1 | Part 2

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