Intellectual Property Understanding Copyright

When it comes to physical property, such as a car, it is easy to determine the owner and the rights of the owner concerning that property. However, when it comes to intangible, creative ideas of the mind, known as intellectual property, many questions and confusions arise. What constitutes intellectual property? What control does a creator have over his/her ideas once they are shared? How can we legally and responsibly use someone else's ideas? These are questions we are teaching our students in Barrington 220 to ask and answer.

"Governments grant creators the right to prevent others from using their inventions, designs or other creations — and to use that right to negotiate payment in return for others using them" (World Trade Organization). Intellectual property includes copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. At the elementary level, we primarily teach students about copyright and plagiarism.

When we were young, our understanding of copyright and plagiarism may have been limited to a teacher's warning not to copy word-for-word from the encyclopedia or the FBI warning at the beginning of a movie reminding us not to reproduce the VHS tape. Our children today have much more to consider. The Internet brings a world of information and creative expressions to their fingertips. Technological devices make it easy for even our youngest students to save, modify, and share that content with a few taps. Students often have a misconception that if they can access content online without paying for it, they can use it in any way they choose. We teach students the difference between "free to access" and "free to use."

We begin by teaching students that everything they find on the Internet was created by someone, even though we may not see them or even know their names, and they deserve the right to protect their ideas. An important emphasis is that copyright does not just protect written language. Copyright protection extends to images, music, and videos, which are often the most violated. Think of the popular song playing in the background of the last slideshow you viewed. This may be common practice, but it was likely a copyright infringement. Barrington 220 instruction includes how to determine if a creator has given permission to use his or her work, and if so, what limitations have been placed on that usage. Students learn that even in an educational setting, there are usage rules that must be followed. Students are also taught how to correctly give credit to the creator. This begins at a basic level in kindergarten, and by the time the students have reached fifth grade, they know how to formally cite their sources.

There are many ways that students can find media to use without copyright infringement. Many apps have built-in images and music that are not copyrighted. If students want more choices, they can search for alternatives that creators have decided to share freely. They will be labeled with a Creative Commons designation. Look for the symbols which show if the work must be used in its original format or if it can modified. Also see if it can be used for commercial purposes as well as how to show attribution. Additionally, creative works once protected by copyright become part of the public domain after the copyright expires. This is why electronic versions of older works of literature can be legally downloaded for free. Barrington 220 also has a subscription to Britannica Image Quest to search for pictures. The login information for this database can be found on the Passwords page.

Barrington 220 Research Tool

In most cases, print and media being used must be cited to give credit to the creator. A useful citation tool our students can use from elementary through high school is NoodleTools. NoodleTools is a comprehensive research management platform that helps students stay organized throughout the entire research process. This online tool provides three differentiated levels of support to generate accurate citations, take notes, create outlines, and collaborate with students and educators. NoodleTools can be accessed through the Elementary Launchpad, and students log in with their district Google accounts.

Citing Sources, Taking Notes, and Organizing in NoodleTools


Britannica Image Quest. (n.d.). [Homepage collage]. Retrieved fromhttps://quest.eb.com/

Common Sense Education. (2014, September 5). Copyright and fair use animation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suMza6Q8J08

NoodleTools. (n.d.). [Citing sources]. Retrieved from https://www.noodletools.com/overview/ citing/

NoodleTools. (n.d.). [Taking notes, organizing, and outlining]. Retrieved from https://www.noodletools.com/overview/notes/

World Trade Organization. (n.d.). Intellectual property: protection and enforcement. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/agrm7_e.htm.

Guest Editor: Wendy Settles- North Barrington School Teacher Librarian

Editorial Team: Barrington 220 Elementary Teacher Librarians


Created with images by geralt - "silhouette head bookshelf knowledge information collected library" • Rohan Makhecha - "Grasp The Light" • TheAngryTeddy - "keyboard keys hardware"

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