Creative Credit & Copyright

What You Need to Know

What is the Issue?

Technology and Internet use is becoming mainstream in households and education. Many students have access to a variety of materials and creative works such as videos, images, writing, etc. but often are not aware of the specifics of copyright laws protecting such materials. Students may have the impression that what they find on the Internet allows for a "free-for-all" and that they are entitled to use whatever they find. This is not the case as students, like any other citizen, are responsible for understanding fair use and following applicable copyright laws.

Students may not be aware of what constitutes plagiarism. This is frequently seen by their actions of "copying and pasting" what they find online into their work. Also, students might not know about what constitutes piracy, such as illegally downloading music. Students need to be educated on what can be used online and how to properly cite what they use.

What do teachers need to know?

Teachers should be aware of copyright laws applicable to themselves as well as their students. Remember, teachers are held just as accountable for being a responsible digital citizen.

Resources for Canadian teachers:

Creative Commons Canada

Copyright Act Canada

A Guide to Copyright

What the Copyright Modernization Act Means for Teachers and Students


Creative Commons International Licensing

What do students need to know?

The following process can help students develop good digital citizenship in the area of creative credit and copyright

1. Ask

  • Students should be able to identify the author of the work and whether the author allows for the sharing of their work or if the student will need permission to do so.

2. Acknowledge

  • Students should understand that citing and giving credit for work is a sign of respect.
  • Students should use an appropriate method of crediting work, preferably based on policies dictated by the teacher, school or copyright laws.

3. Add Value

  • Students need to develop their voice by including their own thoughts and ideas with the ideas of the author.
  • Students should learn to say ideas in their own words.
Click here for a sample lesson plan from Common Sense Media


Common Sense Media. (2012). Digital Literacy and Citizenship in a Connected Culture. Retrieved from

Top photo:

Left, Centre, and Right Photos: Creative Commons Canada from