Copyright & Citations

Pod FiveWith the affordances new technologies have given us to share, copy, and edit information, it is important for tweens/teens to understand the ethical implications of doing research and using information from others. Young adults should not only know how to use information for their own understanding and knowledge of the world, but how to use that information in responsible and moral ways. The activities in this pod focus on copyright laws (why they exist) and how students can safely and legally use the information they find for their own research projects. Download Pod.

Topics in this Pod

  • Basics of copyright law
  • Plagiarism
  • How to cite (web) sources

Essential Questions

  • Why do I have to say where I got my information? Why is this important? (essentially, “Why do I have to cite my sources?”)
  • What is plagiarism and why should I care about it?
  • How do I cite my sources? How do I give credit to the resources I used in my research?


  • Plagiarism: copying someone else’s work/writing as your own
  • Citation: reference that gives credit to other people’s ideas/thoughts/material that you have used in your own work
  • Bibliography/works cited/references: the works or a list of the works (books, magazines, articles, etc.) referred to in a text or consulted by the author in its production
  • Public domain: works that are no longer protected by copyright or never were (government documents, really, really old stuff – like from the 1800s)
  • Fair use: the idea that brief excerpts of copyrighted material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder
  • Copyright: the legal right to be the only one to reproduce, publish, and sell a book, musical recording, etc., for a certain period of time (today it’s the author’s life + 70 years)
  • File-sharing (peer-to-peer/P2P): the practice of or ability to transmit files from one computer to another over a network or the Internet
  • Copyright infringement: violation of one of the copyright laws
  • Intellectual property: property (i.e. idea, method, music, play, written work, etc.) that comes from the work of the mind


What is copyright law and why is it important? Copyright laws can be confusing, especially with the Internet and how easy it is to just “cut-and-paste” stuff. This activity provides a basic overview of several concepts related to copyright law: copyright infringement, intellectual property, fair use, and public domain and how each of these affects your students and the research they do. See More.

What is Plagiarism? Plagiarism is a federal offense and in essence, stealing. This activity explains what plagiarism is and how students can avoid plagiarizing when they are doing research projects. See More.

Citing Sources. Giving credit to the resources that kids use for their research projects is extremely important. In this activity, teach kids the different elements needed for citing an online source (like a website) and give them an opportunity to find this information on the websites they are using for their health research (or any research!). See More.


At the end of the pod, students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between legal creative uses vs. infringement of copyrighted materials
  • Write a bibliography (know the structure/parts of a bibliography)
  • Use different methods to prevent plagiarism in their own work

AASL Standards

3.1.6 Use information and technology ethically and responsibly.

3.3.7 Respect the principles of intellectual freedom.

4.3.2 Recognize that resources are created for a variety of purposes.

Annotated Bibliography

What is copyright law and why is it important?

  1. Show students the two versions of the Common Sense Media handout, “Identifying High Quality Sites.” The first correctly identifies the creators as Common Sense Media, while the second says the handout was created by the HackHealth team.
  2. Ask students what they notice about these two handouts. What’s the same? What’s different? Leading question: Does it matter that we replaced the Common Sense Media logo and put our HackHealth logo on it instead? Is this a bad thing? Why or why not?
  3. Lead a discussion about copyright, fair use, intellectual property, and public domain.
  4. Scaffolding: If kids are having trouble understanding these concepts, show the video “A Fair(y) Use Tale” (Chapters 1 – 4) and use the video as a springboard to talk about the concepts of copyright (copyright infringement, fair use, intellectual property, and public domain)

What is Plagiarism?

  1. Introduce the idea of plagiarism: Go over to a student and ask if you can “borrow” his/her pencil/pen/notebook/bag/etc. Then go over to another student and ask him/her if he/she likes your new [whatever you “borrowed”]. (Hopefully you’ll get some surprised, shocked looks!) Ask students what is wrong with doing this? (Get them to say it’s stealing, and then lead them in a discussion that enables them to see that is what plagiarism really is.)
  2. Show Moovly presentation video on “Plagiarism.”
  3. Review main points of video:
    1. Definition of plagiarism (explain that it’s a form of copyright infringement – if you did Activity 1)
    2. Why it’s important to not plagiarize
    3. Some examples of plagiarism
    4. How to prevent plagiarism

Citing Sources.

  1. Tell students that in order to not plagiarize (define plagiarism if necessary), one thing you can do is cite your sources or create a bibliography. NOTE: You can still plagiarize even if you cite a source you used, but don’t use proper quotation marks around direct quotes.
  2. Tell students that there are several pieces of information you need to cite your sources/create a bibliography.
  3. Show PowerPoint “Bibliography – For Online Sources ”
  4. Tell students that when they find a good site that they want to take information from, they should also write down the information about the creators of the site to include in a bibliography.
  5. Give each student a “Citing Your Sources” handout and explain it.
  6. Give students 20-25 minutes to do some research on their health topic
  7. Walk around to monitor and answer questions as necessary
  8. If there’s time, have students work in pairs to check each other’s citation information and make sure it is correct.

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