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Lesson Plan

Technology and Copyright Law: A "Futurespective"

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Technology and Copyright Law: A "Futurespective"

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Cassandra Love

Asheville, North Carolina


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students research past copyright disputes and their relation to technology innovations before predicting future copyright disputes that may arise from advancements in technology. They sort images of technology advancements into chronological order and compare these advancements with changes in copyright law. Next, students research and report on several instances of how copyright laws have adapted to encompass new technologies and discuss the role of technology innovations in recent copyright disputes. They brainstorm emerging technologies or technologies that they think will be adapted or invented in the future. Finally, they write newspaper articles predicting the outcome of current copyright disputes related to technology and predicting copyright issues that may arise with new and future technologies.

This lesson plan was developed as part of a collaborative professional project with the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

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  • Printing Press: Students can use this online tool to publish newspapers, flyers, brochures, or booklets.
  • Copyright and Technology Timeline: This handout lists major events in copyright law from the Statute of Anne through modern times.
  • Copyright Article Assignment: This handout describes an assignment in which students write a newspaper article predicting a future copyright dispute.

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United States copyright law was amended ten times between 2004 and 2008; several of those amendments addressed issues arising from new technology. Thinking about adapting copyright law to cover new technologies gives students a new perspective on copyright law and law in general. Rather than seeing such laws as set rules that just exist, they can begin to see laws as tools that are created by society-that is, as fluid rules that change and adapt as society itself changes and adapts. In writing about their predictions for future copyright issues, students are challenged to truly understand the information they read about past and current copyright issues and ultimately apply this information to a new situation.

Further Reading

U.S. Copyright Office. 2007. Copyright Law of the United States.


NCTE Executive Committee, November 2008. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. Online: http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/fairusemedialiteracy.

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