Secondary Lesson Module 1—What is the history of the US constitutional and legal copyright provisions?
- Students will construct a timeline tracing the history of US copyright law
- Various publications on copyright, including a list of related websites (see Resources)
- Sample timeline for copyright history
Prior Knowledge and Experiences
- As part of an exercise in historical inquiry, students have formulated a set of questions to focus their research on the history of intellectual property rights. (Note that this exercise should allow the teacher to assess the background knowledge of the students regarding copyright and their attitudes toward copyright violation.)
- Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to use the given resources, or other resources that students offer, to research the history of US copyright law, including its basis in English laws. Have each group sketch a timeline based on their findings.
- Bring the class together to review the findings of each group and construct a master timeline. Use the provided timeline (see Materials) to fill in any gaps.
- Lead the class in brainstorming about ways in which they could illustrate their timelines to provide a historical context for their findings; for example, they might use photographs or other visual data, literary sources, or musical sources or other items. Note that the use of illustrations from other sources, particularly the Web, might provide fertile ground for another discussion of proper use and attribution of materials. You may wish to refer to Arts Lesson Module 4 for more information and ideas.
Indicators of success
- Students identify significant events in the history of copyright development.
Home extension Assign students to illustrate their timelines at home with materials or notations that provide historical context for the events on the timeline. Have students discuss with a parents or other older family member the parts of the timeline that span their lives, and discuss what social, technological, and economic changes have accompanied the events included in that timeline segment. Ask the students to report, verbally or in writing, on their views and those of their families about the ways that intellectual property laws have changed in recent years to better protect and foster creative work.
Secondary Lesson Module 2—What is the history of attitudes to intellectual property?
- Students will describe the historical development of attitudes toward intellectual property
- Timelines on copyright history (Note: Students may have created these in a previous lesson)
Prior Knowledge and Experiences
- * Students have been researching historical data on copyright laws in order to provide a historical context for current copyright issues.
- Using the timeline students have developed, or one that you provide, lead students in a discussion of parallels between the events on the timeline and technological advances. For example, the beginning of commercial distribution of recorded sound led to the introduction of “mechanical rights” in the Copyright Act of 1909; the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 updated copyright law for the digital age, to deal with the difficulties posed by peer-to-peer piracy of digital music.
- Discuss with students how their own attitudes toward copyright have been affected by their awareness of copyright issues and their recognition of themselves as creators of artistic works. Ask the following: Based on what you have discovered about copyright law, what changes have you made in your use of copyrighted materials? What changes have you made in creating your own works? (You may find particularly lively discussion regarding the use of intellectual property on the computer.) Ask each student to write a persuasive paper defending his or her position on the proper use of copyrighted materials.
Indicators of Success
- Students identify the relationships between historical developments and attitudes toward copyright law
Home Extension Have students discuss with their parents or another older family member the parts of the timeline that span their lives, and have them ask their parents to identify changes as positive or negative in their view. Ask students to write a paragraph about their discussions and to be prepared to discuss their findings in another class session.