Technological innovation has created new and exciting ways for us to watch movies and television shows, listen to music, play games, and even read books. However, this innovation has also had an unintended consequence. The internet made everything available, seemingly for free. But this created an expectation of free and contributed to the devaluation of creative works.

While this new free economy looked and felt like progress for audiences, it directly impacted the ability of the creative community to be fairly compensated for their work. From journalists to musicians to costume designers and photographers, suddenly their work was available online without their permission and without compensation. To encourage a vibrant creative future, we urge educators to teach our next generation of students to understand the value of creativity. By living as ethical digital citizens, they can ensure a vibrant creative marketplace for people to pursue creative careers.

We encourage our members in the creative communities to visit schools and speak to students about what they do for a living. As creatives, we have breathed life into stories that have become our favorite movies, television shows, music, games, and books – without taking audiences behind the scenes to show them the hours of work and countless jobs involved in the creative process. In order to inspire a new generation to pursue careers in these fields and to respect creative work, we must tell them about these jobs behind the scenes. We encourage these creatives to visit schools to talk about these wide-ranging careers and opportunities.

We point students and teachers toward a K-12 curriculum teaching the concepts of copyright and fair use in everyday digital life. We know that these concepts are dense, legal ideas that are challenging even for adults to grasp – especially when applied to the ever-shifting landscape of the digital world. How can we teach concepts to children that are bewildering to adults?

Thankfully, the educational nonprofit iKeepSafe created materials for teachers to help navigate this complicated subject matter and teach these concepts in ways that are appealing to young people. This curriculum prepares students to behave ethically online and to understand their rights and responsibilities as 21st century creatives and consumers.

Never before have educators, copyright experts, and open information advocates worked together to create essential digital citizenship lessons on copyright, fair use, the public domain, and Creative Commons. This curriculum, Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens, features lesson plans, videos, activities, and handouts designed to inspire creativity and help students make conscientious choices about sharing their creative works, while respecting the rights of others.

All of the K-12 materials, including professional development lessons for teachers, can be found at the Copyright & Creativity website.

Finally, we encourage college students to become ambassadors of our message through our partnership with Macmillan Learning. We worked with Macmillan Learning and a group of Los Angeles-based street poets to create an educational video that debuted on their LaunchPad for Media Essentials, Fifth Edition at the end of 2019. We hope the video’s message will resonate with faculty and students alike as they create, research, cite, and consume content across the digital world. Even if you are not a student or professor who uses the Macmillan Learning Launchpad portal, we still hope you will appreciate the video and the resources that come with it. You can see the video here.