Copyright & Creative Commons: Lesson Plan

Download a .doc, a .odt or a .pdf of this lesson plan.

If you’ve got any suggestions on how to improves this lesson plan, let us know, or contribute to Wikieducator’s New Zealand Digital Citizenship Module on ‘Copyright, Copyleft and Plagiarism.’


Students understand how to legally adapt and reuse Creative Commons and public domain material. This means that students:

  • understand what copyright is;
  • understand the range of Creative Commons licences;
  • can choose and apply a creative commons licence for their own work;
  • find content that can be reused and remixed;
  • learn how to correctly attribute remixed works; and,
  • understand plagiarism.



In general, copyright works cannot be copied, adapted, remixed, reused or shared without the copyright holder’s permission. In New Zealand, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus fifty years. For more information, see the Copyright Council’s Introductory Factsheet.

When material falls out of copyright, it enters the public domain. In New Zealand, all works produced by an author who died in 1962 or earlier are in the public domain.

Remember, copyright also applies on the Internet.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand provides a series of licences which give users permission to share and adapt copyright works.

This video provides basic information about the licences: Creative Commons Kiwi

More resources explaining the Creative Commons licences can be found at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

Creative Commons International provide a more philosophical take on remix and adaptation: Building on the Past.

How to Adapt, Remix and Attribute Your Sources

All Creative Commons licences require users to attribute their sources. If you fail to attribute properly, you violate the terms of the licences. While attribution can take several difference forms, in essence you should include:

  • the name of the author or creator;
  • the title of the work;
  • a link to the work’s URL;
  • a link to the Creative Commons licence the author or creator used;
  • any additional information required in the licence statement.

You can put this information at the end of your work, or on the work’s webpage.

This Free to Mix guide outlines how to find and reuse digital content.

This fact sheet from Creative Commons Australia goes into more detail about using attributing Creative Commons works.


  1. ‘Building on the Past’ argues that all creativity builds on the past. Is this true? Discuss some examples of famous artists—such as Shakespeare, Walt Disney and Peter Jackson—who famously adapted earlier works.  Is all creative work a remix of one kind or another?
  2. Discuss with students the differences between copyright, the Creative Commons licences and the public domain, using a scale from ‘most free’ to ‘most restrictive.’
  3. Discuss with students the difference between remix and plagiarism, leading into a discussion of the importance of attribution. Students should always credit the original creator when reusing work. Highlight the importance of note taking, summarising and referencing to keep track of all sources.


This game reinforces the different licences and makes students think about how you can mix and match different licence types.


  • What is the purpose of copyright?
  • If we didn’t have copyright, would we still have creative work? Why or why not?
  • What’s the difference between plagiarism and ‘inspiration’?
  • What’s the difference between owning a song and owning a car?
  • Give your own definition of plagiarism.


In this activity, students will create a new work that creatively re-uses and adapts source material provided by DigitalNZ, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand. Students may submit their work to Mix & Mash 2013: The New Storytelling for showcasing.

1) Check out the material provided at the Mix & Mash set at DigitalNZ.

The Mix & Mash set.

2) Search for additional material here, remembering to takes notes on all your sources.

NZ material: DigitalNZ
Music: Jamendo and the Free Music Archive
Public Domain: Wikimedia
Photos: Compfight
Video: Vimeo
General search: Creative Commons

3) Generate ideas

4) Find the tools you need to realise your idea.

Apple iMovie is free on some Apple computers
YouTube Video Editor
Vimeo  Enhancer

Pixlr, free online photo editor
Fotoflexer, distort and retouch photos online
GIMP,  open source photo-editing program, free to download to your computer
Slideshare, to make a presentation using your remixed images

Audacity,  a free-to-download, open source software for recording, editing, and converting audio files

5) Tell your story.

6) Attribute your sources.

There are many ways to provide attribution. See above for what kinds of information to include.

7) Choose your Creative Commons licence, to enable others to share, remix and reuse your work.

Use the simple Creative Commons licence chooser.



Display this poster to explain the Creative Commons licences.

Read the Free to Mix Guide

Read Helen Baxter’s series of Remix Columns


Lawrence Lessig Ted Talk: In this 20 min presentation, Creative Commons co-founder and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig argues that the current copyright regime restricts, rather than encourages, creativity.

Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture:  Chapter One, pages 20-30, discusses the story of Disney’s use of public domain material in the early 20th century to produce Mickey Mouse.

Everything is a Remix Kirby Ferguson speaks about the impact of remixing on creativity through a series of videos and presentations.

Creative Commons for Teachers

In most situations, the works produced by a teacher in a school (handouts, resources, lesson plans) are owned by their employer—which in New Zealand is the school’s Board of Trustees. Technically, this means that teachers who want to share their teaching and learning materials need to gain written permission from their employer before they can legally do this. Some schools make the process of sharing easier by adopting a Creative Commons Policy which makes all material produced by a teacher available under a CC-By licence. Examples of Creative Commons policies include:

Other schools to use Creative Commons licensing include Tawa Intermediate and Wellington High School. Read more about New Zealand schools using Creative Commons policies at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand’s Education Portal.


This work is partially based on Wikieducator’s New Zealand Digital Citizenship Module on ‘Copyright, Copyleft and Plagiarism.’ That work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

This work also draws on material from the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa’s Free to Mix Guide. That work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.


This work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence

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