Web Literacy Basics II | Reading the Web

Fair Use Free-for-All

Made by Mozilla Learning Networks.

Learners will compete to identify examples and non-examples of fair use in peers' web remixes, learning credibility, search, and sharing.

90 minutes

  • Preparation

    Do the activity on your own to become familiar with fair use, open licensing, copyright, search, reverse-image search, and embedding images in a webpage.

    1. Follow this link to the Thimble project for this activity.
    2. Click on the green "Remix" button in the upper right-hand corner of the window to go into the project's code.
    3. Click on the "Tutorial" pane next to the "Preview" pane in the upper right-hand corner of the coding window.
    4. Follow the steps in the tutorial to complete the activity. You may also need to check back here and complete some of the steps in this lesson plan to successfully finish the Thimble project.

    You may also wish to set up accounts on teach.mozilla.org. This will save time later when learners are ready to embed images in their Thimble webpage remixes.

    Review this definition of "Fair Use", so that you can help your learners (and colleagues!) understand the differences between fair use of copyrighted material, use of openly licensed resources, and copyright violations.

    Be sure to make room in your learning space for students to move around during the activity.

    Post the URL, or Web address, of today's make somewhere highly visible in your room. You may want to post it as a shortened link using a service like bit.ly.

    Be prepared to help students exercise good judgment and common sense around image searches in this activity. You'll want to be alert to the possibility of image results you weren't expecting and have some norms or expectations in place for community member's behavior when they encounter questionable content online.

  • 15


    Welcome your students and ask for some ideas about how they know if people are telling the truth or not.

    After a few people have shared answers with the group, explain that today we'll all have the chance to bluff one another while learning about fair use, open licenses, and copyright.

    Explain that to begin, and to get to know one another better, we'll play "Two Truths and a Lie."

    To play this game, you tell another person three things about yourself. One of those things is a lie, but the other two are truths. You can mix and match amazing things (like, "I've skydived twelve times!") with tiny, simple things (like, "I love cheesecake.") or just use one or the other to create confusion for your partner-slash-opponent.

    Facilitate the game and a short, reflective conversation as follows:

    1. Give students 2-3 minutes to think of their personal "facts."

    2. Then ask your students to get up and move around and play the game with as many people as possible in the next 5 minutes. While playing, ask students to keep track of how many times they are right about an opponent.

    3. Remind students that it's great to bring creativity and humor to an activity like this, but that we're not here to endanger or offend anyone. We should respect community norms when we tell our stories and focus on our sharing our experiences, not judging other people's.

    4. After five minutes, bring the group back together and say something like, "Raise your hand if you were right about at least one person." Then, keep asking, but go from one person to two people and so on until you find out which students were right the most times about their classmates. Deliver some positive feedback after each round of hand-raising (like, "Good job figuring that out!").

    5. After your group discovers its winner(s), ask learners how they would fact-check one another if they could use a computer or mobile device while playing. Would that make the game harder or easier? What kind of searches would they make? What search terms would they use?

    After a brief discussion along those lines, explain that today we're going to check one another's work against fair use, open licenses, and copyright law by remixing webpages and playing a game of gotcha with one another's work.

    Ask learners to sit at their computers and go to the webpage for today's activity.

  • 10

    Fair Use, Open Licenses, and Copyright

    Feel free to use slides like these to help explain fair use, open licensing, and copyright. Share the link to your students, as well, so they can use the slides to find and evaluate images as examples of fair use, open licensing, or copyright violation.

    Here are some essentials:

    • Fair use: you can quote or excerpt or use a small part of someone else's work without asking permission for

      • for criticism or analysis (including making fun of it with satire).
      • for reporting the news.
      • for teaching (and learning).
      • for research.

    • Open licensing: some creators share work for others to use under open licenses. Creative Commons is a popular open licensing platform with licenses you can mix and match like

      • CC-BY: you can use the work and change it if you say who made it.
      • CC-BY-SA: you can use the work and change it if you say who made it and also share your work the same way - or if you "share-alike."
      • CC-BY-NC: you can use the work and change it if you say who made it and don't make money off your work - it's "non-commercial."
      • CC-BY-ND: you can use the work if you say who made it and if you only share it without changing it - it's "non-derivative."

    • Copyright: You made the work and you own it and have a claim to all copies of it. Unless you license your work openly, it is copyrighted and people can only use tiny bits for fair use unless they make an agreement with you to use more. You have to get permission from a copyright holder and agree on a license to use a copyrighted work for anything more than fair use.

  • 45

    Fair Use Free-for-All

    Now that we've reviewed fair use, open licenses, and copyright, we're going to play Fair Use Free-for-All (which is like Two Truths and a Lie) using a remixable webpage on Thimble.

    Help students get to Fair Use Free-for-All, the Thimble project we'll remix today. Take students through the page. Point out the definition of fair use and the three pictures with check boxes underneath them.

    Explain that students will

    1. Take about 10 minutes to find three pictures online: one that can be used for fair use, one that has an open license, and one that is copyrighted.

    2. Take another 10 minutes to swap the pictures on the webpage out for the three pictures they find. To do so, students can hit the "Remix" button on today's Thimble project and then click on the "Tutorial" tab in the upper right-hand side of the screen to work through swapping the images.

    3. Switch computers with a partner.

    4. Take 10-15 minutes to search for how their partners' images are licensed to determine if they are examples of fair use, open licensing, or copyright violation (if a partner does not have permission to use a specific, copyrighted image and is not practicing fair use). Students can show what they think by clicking the matching checkbox under each picture on their partners' Thimble pages.

    Remind students to use the tutorial inside the Thimble project to help them learn how to search out images online. The tutorial also has steps to explain how students can conduct reverse-image searches to see their partners' images on the webpages that use them. By looking at the webpages that hold the images, students can determine how the images are used in their partners Thimble pages.

    Also remind students that not all online images are appropriate for your shared community. Students should follow your community norms both in searching for images and using them in their projects. It should be a goal not to offend others with images or search results. Common sense and care for others in the community are parts of the sharing competency in today's activity.

    After students check which kind of use they think goes with each picture, the partners should get together for a final 5-10 minutes, explain their choices to one another, and then come to an agreement on each picture using their combined best judgment.

  • 10

    Share aloud

    Take 10 minutes for each pair of students to explain how they determined whether their pictures were examples of fair use, open licensing, or copyright violation.

  • 15


    Facilitate a reflective discussion about balancing creator and users' rights with fair use, open licensing, and copyright.

    Before you begin, remind students of community norms about kindness and encourage them to talk about their own learning, not about other people.

    Use questions like these or develop your own.

    • Did you know that when you use Thimble, like in today's project, you agree to terms of service that say you give every Thimble user "a non-exclusive, worldwide, sublicensable, royalty free license" to use your work? That means other Thimble users can remix what you've made without ever paying you. And you can remix other people's remixes too! What do you think of that? In your mind, how should a tool like Thimble handle "ownership" your work? Would it work if people had to pay to remix other people's projects?
    • What would the world be like if we copyrighted everything?
    • What would the world be like if we openly licensed everything?
    • What do you think is a good balance between creators' copyright and users' rights to share and make stuff with things they buy? Like, is it okay to copy and share music? To sell your own shoes with a Nike swoosh painted on them? To make an app that doesn't do anything, but call it "Snapchat" and sell it online? How should we balance a creator's right to own a creation with a consumer's right to use what she bought how she wants?
    • Would you rather copyright your work or openly license it? Why?
    • Are you comfortable with other people, say, using part of your schoolwork under "fair use?" How much of the work you do should people be able to use before they have to ask you for permission to use it?
    • How do things like fair use and open licensing challenge the idea of "copying" "cheating" at school?
    • What are easy ways to tell if something is copyrighted or not?
    • What are easy ways to tell if something is openly licensed or not?
    • If you had questions about whether or not something was fair use, how would you find answers?

    You may ask students to document or record their answers for assessment. Be sure to help each student find a way to share that works for her, as well as for you, so you can gauge her learning about today's topic without a particular tool (like paper/pencil) blocking a student's expression.