This workshop is a Q&A Game to help understand the broad principles of copyrighted material and the meanings of different licences online.
Preparation time for facilitator
Time needed to complete activity (for learner)
Name of author
Resource originally created in
In this workshop, you will present five situations to participants. They will need to decide in groups whether the use of the work in each situation respects copyright law. The groups with the right response will win a point. At the end, check the totals to determine the winner.
Facilitation tips: For this activity, you should have some knowledge on online intellectual property rights. For this, refer to the workshop plan on this subject. We recommend you preface this workshop through another which will introduce the core concepts, for example: ‘Digital Common #1: Right to Use‘.
If participants are not familiar with the different kinds of licensing, refer to the workshop plan ‘Content and Open Licenses: Creating and Sharing‘. Now, in this workshop, you will give participants different content/work use situations in order to develop their comprehension of copyright. Copyright is designed to protect the works of the holder. By the end of this workshop, participants should understand that copyright is not incompatible with open licensing systems favouring the distribution and sharing of works.
Question and answer game
Before the game, define in general terms the concept of copyright. In a few words: copyright refers to the rights that belong to the person who created (or who otherwise holds the relevant rights) a work (e.g. drawing, photo, play, article, video, song). Explain that the rights-holder can decide if other can use their works and if yes, in what way. Once the introduction is done, divide participants into several groups. Then read in turn the scenarios below. Each scenario should raise questions. Feel free to respond. Each situation should also be followed by a discussion.
- Scenario 1: Estelle, 9 years old
Estelle downloads a photo of a pumpkin from the site flickr.com. The photographer indicated that the photo has been distributed under the license Creative Commons CC BY-NC. Estelle modifies the photo by adding a ghost, then posts it on her blog mentioning the name of the original author.
Facilitation Feel free to explain the meaning of CC BY-NC. BY = credit is required (attribution) and NC = non-commercial, i.e. the work cannot be used for commercial reasons.
Answer: OK Estelle is allowed to use it, change it and post it on our blog since she cited the name of the original author. However, she cannot use the photo for commercial objectives. If we take it for granted that Estelle’s blog does not generate revenue, she has respected copyright. There will be no going to prison for Estelle.
- Scenario 2 : Xavier, 11 years old
Xavier finds a photo of a volcano on wikimedia. The photographer indicated that the photo is under the Creative Commons licensing CC BY-BC-SA. Xavier snips the photo to use it as the banner photo for his new website. He makes sure to add the name of the author and indicate the licensing.
Facilitation Feel free to detail the meaning of CC BY-NC-SA. BY = credit is required (attribution) and NC = non-commercial, i.e. the work cannot be used for commercial reasons. SA = can be modified as long as original licensing is used.
Answer: OK Xavier is allowed to copy the photo, change it and use it as the banner of his website, since he has properly cited the name of the original author. Since he isn’t allowed to use it for commercial purposes, we will take it for granted that his website does not generate profits. In order to conform to copyright, he must add CC BY-NC-SA in order to indicate the licensing to other users. The photo will thus be distributed under the same rights that were accorded to it initially. For this reason, Xavier has properly respected copyright.
- Scenario 3 : Tom, 10 years old
Tom is good at photography. He has found a photo online that was taken last year. There is no mention of author nor the © symbol. Tum assumes the photo is in public domain and that he can use it. He then posts it on his website.
Facilitation Remind the group of the meaning of public domain. Basically, works that belong to the public domain are not subject to copyright. They can be reused and circulated without condition.
Answer: NOT OK A work that doesn’t indicate the copyright licensing does not automatically belong to the public domain. Most countries are signatories of the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. This convention has it that almost all published original works are protected by copyright whether it is mentioned or not. Therefore, even if a website does not precisely mention licensing nor copyright nor the © symbol, the author of a work reserves the exclusive right to print, distribute and copy it. If Tom wants to use or modify the photo, he must get permission from the author and pay fees if required.
- Scenario 4: Madeleine, 9 years old
Madeleine finds a video of a cat birthing kittens on YouTube. The video is protected by copyright. Madeleine is working on a video for a science project on cats. She uses an extract from the YouTube video in her project and includes the name of the original author.
Facilitation YouTube (YT) is the world’s largest video hosting platform. It is very likely that one or more of your participants will have already shared a video on YT or on another social media platform. It is important to talk about circulating content that is found there. When a user uploads a video to YT, they will have a choice of licensing to use. The first is ‘Standard YouTube License’ which means that you give the distribution rights to YT. This means essentially that your video can be accessed only through YT to be watched and cannot be reproduced or redistributed via any other format. The second is ‘Creative Commons’, with which we are already familiar. Thankfully copyright law is not completely rigid and in this context of an educational project, it is possible to use a part of a work on the condition that the name of the source and author be clearly indicated. Analyses and short citations must be justified by the academic, scientific, informative, educational or critical contexts in which they are used.
Answer: OK The video is used in the context of an educational project. Only the portion of the video necessary is used. Its use has changed the original context and has added value to the new context, i.e., it does not represent a simple copy of the original. The original creator’s name has been mentioned. As the video is not explicitly placed under Creative Commons licensing, this means it uses YT’s standard licensing. Madeleine is therefore allowed to use a portion of it for her project. Where required, she can also circulate it in its entirety but only via YT.
- Scenario 6 : Marie, 13 years old
Marie is preparing a digital portfolio of her visual art. She has posted photos of her works on the homepage of her website. To improve the presentation, she has added background music to her site. She has added a song by the Flaming Lips which will play on repeat. She knows that the song is protected by copyright.
Facilitation Re-emphasise the meaning of copyright and that the song is not under Creative Commons licensing.
Answer: not OK The song cannot be used under these conditions. The song is being used for a purpose outside an educational or research context, the use has not recontextualised the work, nor does it add value: it is a simple copy of the original song. The use of the song in this way could cause financial loss to the copyright holder, since their name is not mentioned alongside the availability of the song on Marie’s website.
To finish, summarise what you have gone over in the workshop. Explain that copyright protects its holders from the unauthorised use of their work. This does not mean that it’s impossible to use a work since an author can easily decide to distribute their works under an open licensing system such as Creative Commons. Here are a few examples of works under Creative Commons or other open licensing: