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Activity 3: Choosing a License

15 January, 2016 - 09:13
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This activity should be done after the students have completed Activities 1 and 2 (or similar introduction to creative intellectual property concepts and law). Before this activity, students should also have created publication-worthy works, with your guidance as a creative-arts instructor (see ***preparation*** section if you would like some suggestions.). A process of constructive criticism, reworking, and editing is strongly recommended so that students can confidently share their work with the rest of the world. However, students should not be required to publish if they are not comfortable doing so (see the activity adaptation below).

Activity Summary

  • Goals - The students will learn about the process of licensing and publishing creative intellectual property.
  • Grade Level - Recommended for secondary and adult students.
  • Student Prerequisites - Students should have completed, or be close to completing, a creative work of publishable quality. Students should also have completed Activities 1 and 2, or similar introduction to publication licenses.
  • Teacher Expertise - The activity leader should understand the relevant laws and implications of the publication licenses under discussion, as well as any relevant district, school or publication-venue rules regarding student publications.
  • Time Requirements - If the students have completed Activities 1 and 2, you should not need to schedule much class time for this activity.
  • Objectives - Each student or group of students who has finished a publishable creative work in the class will choose an appropriate publication license and publication venue for their work.
  • Evaluation - You can assess whether licensing and publication options were considered thoughtfully and procedures were followed correctly. (But allow students free reign to make their own choices without fear that it will affect their grades.)
  • Adaptations - If some students or groups wish to publish and others do not, provide an alternative path for non-publishers to finish the activity; for example, they might write a short report listing the steps that they would need to take to publish their work. If you feel that many or most of the students in the class are not ready to develop and publish creative works alone or in small groups, you may want to undertake an entire-class project that results in a publishable work (for example, a video) that all students have helped to create, and for which the class as a group will choose a publication license.
  • Extensions - For complex creative endeavors that are collaborations by groups of students (for example, a video might include writers, actors, photographers, costume designers, and editors), make sure the discussions and activities include appropriate consent and attribution for everyone involved. For a more involved exploration of publication licenses, or if students wish to build on each other's work, see Activity 4.


  1. Lead the class in creating work that they will be proud to publish and share. When you introduce the creative activity, emphasize that publication, or planning for publication will be part of the process. Discuss the available methods and venues for publication. (For example, as part of a school district art expo or literature contest, in a school magazine, in a newsletter created by the class and distributed to parents or other classes, or in public or private online spaces.) Also make sure students understand your expectations concerning what constitutes a publishable work, as well as any widely-accepted benchmarks of quality.
  2. Design the creation part of the project so that it includes steps for planning, sketches, revisions, edits, or other steps that result in polished, high-quality work.
  3. Be sure to offer your own critiques and suggestions well in advance of the final product, and give the students sufficient time and space to respond to them. If the students are mature enough to offer constructive criticism of each other's work, this can also be a good step to include, again early enough that the creator has plenty of time to consider critiques before creating the final work.
  4. When the works are complete or nearing completion, discuss licenses, as outlined Activity 1: Inquiry into copyright licenses.


  • Tell students that they may publish their works if they like, and ask that they wait until you have reviewed their proposal to make sure that everything is in order. Remind them of any rules for contests or publication venues that are relevant to your class. In explaining this step, make it clear that each student or group of students that has created a work may choose a license for it. Nobody is required to publish. Students are not required to choose a particular license because that is the one they researched, or because others in their research group are choosing it. However, if any creation is a group effort, everyone in the group must freely agree to publish using a particular license, or else the work cannot be published. Tell groups to speak to you if they are having trouble reaching an agreement. They may ask you or another student to act as arbitrator for their discussion, or they may choose to write up a report explaining their unresolved disagreement. If there is time in the course schedule for it, and if the students can conduct a public disagreement maturely and without putting undue social pressure on any of the participants, you may want to ask the group to present their problem to the class for discussion. Be sure to point out that these types of disagreements can also happen when creative professionals publish their popular works.
  • You can schedule class time for discussion, or assign the discussion and choice process as home work.
  • Each student or group should submit a short report listing their chosen license and their reasons for it (or their group difficulties in choosing a license).
  • Provide feedback, pointing out any issues you feel the student may not have considered. Then allow students who wish (and groups who have reached an agreement) to publish.
  • As a final step, students should submit to you either a copy of the work with the licensing and copyright notices properly attached, instructions for easily viewing the published work (for example a web link to a work published online), or a short report listing the steps they would have taken to publish the work properly.