Lesson 7: Intellectual Property and Images

Unplugged | Web Lab


Starting with a discussion of their personal opinions on how others should be allowed to use their work, the class explores the purpose and role of copyright for both creators and users of creative content. They then move on to an activity exploring the various Creative Commons licenses as a solution to the difficulty in dealing with copyright.

Finally, with a common understanding of the restrictions of various Creative Commons licenses, students learn how to add images to their web pages using the <img> tag.


Until this point the only content that students have used on their web pages is their own, but it's common, and quite useful, to be able to integrate information and media created by others. Before learning about the technical ways to do this, however, we need to step back and gain a common understanding of the restrictions and purpose of copyright. We use the Creative Commons license as a clearer alternative to the more restrictive standard copyright and guide students through searching for, using, and properly citing Creative Commons licensed media.


Warm Up (10 min)

Activity 1 (20 min)

Activity 2 (20 min)

Wrap Up (5 min)

View on Code Studio


Students will be able to:

  • Explain the purpose of copyright.
  • Identify the rights and restrictions granted by various Creative Commons licenses
  • Add an image to a web page



Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Teacher

For the Students


  • Citation - A quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, especially in a scholarly work.
  • Copyright - the exclusive legal right to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same
  • Creative Commons - A collection of public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work, used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created
  • Intellectual Property - A work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a piece of writing or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.

Introduced Code

Teaching Guide

Warm Up (10 min)

Use of Your Work


All of you have been working hard to create a new website that you're going to publish to the world. When you publish something, though, it can be hard to control what other people do with it. Sometimes people use our work in ways that don't seem fair to us. I'm going to describe a few situations for you. If you think what happened was fair, stand up. If you think it was unfair, sit down.

Teaching Tip

These prompts aim to relate broader questions of copyright to students' own experiences creating and sharing content online. To make this hit close to home you may want to change the prompts to pick particular forms of social media that students are interested in. If you know students don't use a lot of social media, then alter the prompt to reflect another area where your students might think their own creative work was used inappropriately.

  1. You take an awesome picture and someone puts it on their social media account and with your name beside it.
  2. You write a story and someone else publishes it and says that they wrote it.
  3. You write a song and someone sings it to her friends.
  4. You write a song and someone sings it at a concert and makes a lot of money.
  5. You take a picture and someone else Photoshops it and puts the new version on his web site.


It's okay if not everyone agrees how they want their work to be used. Copyright law says that whoever creates new content, such as a picture, a story, or a song, gets to decide how other people are allowed to use it.

Prompt: What rules would you make for people who want to use your creative work?

Discuss: Have students journal individually, then share with a neighbor, and finally discuss as a whole class.

Activity 1 (20 min)

The Creative Commons Solution


Copyright is granted the moment something is created, so unless explicitly told otherwise, we have to assume any picture, video, or other media we find online is fully covered by copyright law, which means that no one else can make copies or post it online without permission.

Sometimes, though, we want people to share our work so that more people can see it. The Creative Commons (CC) license was developed to help content creators have more specific control over how other people can use their work.

Group: Pair students.

Distribute: Give each student a copy of Licensing Your Work - Activity Guide

Licensing Your Work

License Components

Teaching Tip

Is it Derivative?: Students may struggle with whether the use of a work is derivative or not. The rule of thumb is to consider whether your use of a licensed work would be considered a new copyrightable work.

Converting an image from digital to print, or a song from CD to mp3 would not create a derivative work, but animating a drawing or adding new lyrics to a song would be creating derivative works.

The first portion of this activity guide covers the components of a Creative Commons license. Push students to think critically here about both the value each component adds to the creator, but also the ways it might limit the cultural exchange of ideas, connecting the components of the license to the scenarios that they considered earlier in the class.

Choosing the Right License

The second portion of this activity provides students with four CC licenses and two content creator scenarios. For each scenario, students are asked to evaluate which of the four provided licenses is the least restrictive but still addresses the concerns and needs of the content creator.

Discussion Goal

Goal: While there may not be a specific "right" license for each of these scenarios, encourage students to always consider whether the license they chose is more restrictive than it strictly needs to be. One of the design goals of the Creative Commons license is to increase the amount of creative material available to the general public, promoting the sharing of intellectual property for the common good. With this in mind we should only be adding the minimal restrictions needed to meet the content creator's wishes.

Discuss: Ask several students to share out their responses to the Choosing the Right License scenarios. Encourage discussion and debate if students identified different licenses for the same scenarios.

Activity 2 (20 min)

Adding Images

Transition: Send students to Code Studio, where they will learn about the <img> tag and have an opportunity to add images to the pages they've already created.

Wrap Up (5 min)

Your Own CC License

Journal: Have students update their "HTML Tags" list with the tags they learned in this lesson.

Journal: Think of all the personally created items that you've put on your website so far, and those that you may add in the future. Without a clear license all of those of things (and your web pages themselves) and covered under the fully restrictive copyright. Which Creative Commons license would you rather use (if any) and why?

If there is time you may want to consider having students return to their site and add the Creative Commons license they decided they would like their website to have.

Students can add a footer at the bottom of each page with their Creative Commons License.

  • Adding Images
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • (click tabs to see student view)
View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

View on Code Studio

Recommended Search Engines

Because we can't know which sites might be blocked in your district, we've avoided pointing students to a specific search engine. Not all search engines make it easy to set Creative Commons filters - some of the easiest include:

As with any site with crowdsourced content, search engine results will change from day to day, and some of those results may be inappropriate for the classroom. You may want to check these sites shortly before displaying them to the class, and decide what is best for your classroom.

  • Attribution
  • 7
  • 8
  • (click tabs to see student view)
View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)

AP - Algorithms & Programming
  • 2-AP-16 - Incorporate existing code, media, and libraries into original programs, and give attribution.
  • 3A-AP-20 - Evaluate licenses that limit or restrict use of computational artifacts when using resources such as libraries.
IC - Impacts of Computing
  • 1B-IC-21 - Use public domain or creative commons media and refrain from copying or using material created by others without permission.
  • 2-IC-23 - Describe tradeoffs between allowing information to be public and keeping information private and secure.