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Understanding copyright and Creative Commons


Students research copyright, fair use and various license types and will create an infographic that explains key concepts and guidelines.


  • Students will identify when it is appropriate to reuse information from the Internet.
  • Students will identify how to properly credit what they find online.
  • Students will use one tool to explain these rules creatively.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning and evidence and to add interest.


Three 50-minute periods


Lesson step-by-step

Students should already have been introduced to copyright law. If necessary, review this presentation from the Law and Ethics module. Similarly, this lesson is more beneficial if students have been exposed to the Principles of design basics lesson and Interactive alternative copy tools for the web lesson.

Introduction — 20 minutes

Use the “Attribution of photos and images” presentation to introduce the requirements for proper sourcing.

Application — 30 minutes

In small groups, students will use the Internet to conduct research and answer the questions below. Students must provide the source of their information for each question.

  • What is Creative Commons?
  • What are the types of licenses?
  • What information must be included for proper attribution?
  • Where do you place the attribution?
  • How do you find “free to use” images online?
  • What are three common errors in attribution of images?

If necessary, pair students for this practice activity based on individual learner needs and/or computer availability. Depending on the time available, consider calling on students to share a few responses to the questions at the end of class or assign a quick pair/share or group discussion to check for understanding.

Activity — Day 2 and Day 3 (50 minutes each)

Using the information gathered in the previous class period, students will choose one of the tools below to create an infographic. Introduce the activity and answer students’ questions as well as review the rubric with the class.

Each graphic must include “Free to reuse” images that are properly attributed.

When students finish, they should email the finished graphic to the teacher. Based on the classroom setup, you may choose to have students share via social media or an online learning management system instead.


  1. Infogram (level of difficulty: easy)
  2. Piktochart (level of difficulty: easy)
  3. Adobe inDesign (if available) (level of difficulty: moderate)

Sharing — 15 minutes

Display the different graphics online (or print them for the class) and point out examples of proper sourcing (as well as proper graphic design elements).


Use the rubric provided to evaluate students’ work.