Middle School
Digital Citizenship Lesson

Copyright and Plagiarism

Essential Question

What rights do you have as a creator?

Key Vocabulary

Fair Use:  the ability to use copyrighted work without permission, but only in certain ways and in specific situations (schoolwork and education, news reporting, criticizing or commenting on something, and comedy/parody)

Public Domain: creative work that’s not copyrighted and therefore free for you to use however you want remix or mash-up: editing together clips of video, sound, images, and text by “remixing” or “mashing” different parts together to create something new

Parody: a creative work that is a funny imitation of something and pokes fun at an original work

Class Discussion

There are only two ways you can use copyrighted work without permission: public domain and fair use.  Discuss what each means.

Take a few minutes to look at this Public Domain Example:

The Four Points of Fair Use

Discuss in Table Groups

  1. What are examples of “schoolwork and education”?
  2. What are examples of “news reporting”?
  3. What are some examples of “criticizing or commenting on something”?
  4. What are some examples of “comedy and parody”?

The four points of fair use are just guidelines. People need to think critically to decide whether or not something is fair use. It is always a good idea to give credit to the creator of work you used even if you think it is usable under fair use.

Video Activity
"Scary Mary" by Chris Rule

This recut of the Disney classic 'Mary Poppins' was made by myself (Christopher Rule), with assistance by Nick Eckert.

This contains the musical piece "A Violent Attack" composed by Caine Davidson for the film 'An American Haunting,' "Stay Awake" written by Richard and Robert Sherman for Disney's 'Mary Poppins,' and stock sounds from iMovie. Clips filmed with a Panasonic MiniDV camera and edited on iMovie.

Do you think this video falls under fair use? If so, why
If not, why not?

Post your answers on this Padlet:


Huseman D'Annunzio, Melissa. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 June 2015.

Table Group Discussion

Why do you think that plagiarism is considered to be such a serious offense in the academic community? What do you think are the most important reasons to avoid plagiarism?

Extension Activity

Cut out (copyrighted) images from magazines. Using glue and construction paper, mix images together into a collage. Rework and change the images to create a new, original work that can be called fair use. Take time to view each other’s work and examine how well each collage fits the key points of fair use.