Teaching pupils about intellectual property and ownership

Samantha Clarkson & Lauren Rooney

By Samantha Clarkson of Into Film and Lauren Rooney of Industry Trust for IP Awareness

Samantha Clarkson is CPD and Resources Coordinator at Into Film; she works with teachers, educators and professional bodies to research, deliver and evaluate training for teachers and educators of 5-19 year olds to enable children and young people across the UK to learn through and about film. Samantha manages the production of Into Film resources to support teaching and learning through film across the school curriculum, engagement with film and filmmaking in non-school settings and encouraging young people to visit the cinema. For information about Into Film and how to access free films, teaching resources and educator training visit www.intofilm.org.

Lauren Rooney works in communications at the Industry Trust for IP Awareness; she oversees the day-to-day running of the ScreenThing social community as well as the social communities for www.findanyfilm.com and the prestigious Moments Worth Paying For campaign. Lauren also manages public relations activity to further inspire and inform audiences to choose legal routes to buy and watch film and TV. For information visit  www.industrytrust.co.uk.

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Originally published on 26th May 2016. Originally published on 26th May 2016.

Intellectual Property is essential for nurturing innovation and creativity, but what exactly is IP and why do pupils need to know about it? What are the consequences of downloading films illegally? Should things that are online be free? In our ever more digital and connected world, it is increasingly important for young people – many of whom may have future careers in the creative industries themselves - to consider these questions and understand that artists must be properly paid for their work in order to continue creating.

Over the last few years the film industry has seen an abundance in the emergence of British talent adding to the outstanding legacy of British filmmakers over the previous decades. From 1995 BAFTA-winning director Ridley Scott and 2009 Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, to 2015 Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne, many of these wouldn’t be where they are today without the film education they received in school. Setting some of the UK film industry’s best talent on their way to success, film education not only provides practical insight, but also teaches students to value the creative process.

These are all great success stories, and ones that should be celebrated, but the value of creativity extends far "The availability of access to entertainment, film, music, games, books and TV is as easy as a click of a button."beyond the next generation of British talent. As the years go on, we are becoming more and more immersed in a digital society, a world where we are so connected all of the time and have an incredible amount of information at our fingertips. The availability of access to entertainment, film, music, games, books and TV is as easy as a click of a button through the likes of televisions, tablets, smartphones, laptops and game consoles – but unfortunately not always from legal sources. It’s here where the importance of film education, encouraging debate about the value of creativity, and teaching young people to understand and value copyright in ways they can relate to is essential.

Unauthorised ‘free’ content can be a big temptation for young people who are yet to make their own income. It’s key we tackle this head on, and the foundation for this is in the classroom. Film education can play a pivotal role in educating future generations of consumers, helping young people understand the right way to use copyrighted material, as the value of content they enjoy plays a vital role in securing the future of entertainment, and maybe even their own careers in film or television. Copyright is what the UK’s creative industry is made up of and underpins future career opportunities available to young British talent, so the importance of educating the future generations is imperative.

Encouraging pupils to become ‘creators’ themselves, explore the many roles involved in making a film, or hold a discussion or debate around issues such as film piracy and illegal downloading are good ways to get these important messages across.

Here are a few specific activities you might like to try with your students:

Explaining Copyright (Primary)

  1. Give pupils a sheet of paper and ask them to draw either an animal, a person or a character of their own imagining (perhaps based on a pet or family member).
  2. Ask them to write their name at the bottom of the page, then pass their drawings to the person next to them. Now invite pupils to make one change to the drawing, cross out the name on the page and then add their own name.
  3. How do they feel to have someone take their work, change it and take credit for it? Why is it important to respect others’ work and give them credit?
  4. Show pupils the copyright symbol: ©. Have they seen it before? Do they know what it means? Explain how easy it is for students to protect their own work. Including the copyright symbol, your name and the date when you create a film, piece of art, piece of writing etc can tell people accessing your content who it belongs to and who they should ask for permission to use or reproduce it.

Creating Movie Magic (Primary)

  1. Films are a great example of talented people working together to produce something truly creative. Many people are involved in bringing movie magic to the screen. How many people do pupils estimate are involved with making a film?
  2. Play the end credits of any film that is available in the classroom. A great example is Muppets Most Wanted (2013, Cert. U). The range of roles within each department, including the international set-up of artists in the UK and US is phenomenal. Take guesses from around the classroom and then reveal: it is around 1,200!

Creating Movie Magic (Secondary)

Describe the meaning of intellectual property (IP) and how it relates to filmmaking. Research the different skills, roles and potential careers in the film industry. Explore what is involved in creating special effects by watching clips from films such as Inception, Gravity, Titantic, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit or The Lord of the Rings.

How does Intellectual Property protect the different individuals involved?

Ask students to work in pairs to construct a newspaper or magazine article, or a presentation, on the importance of IP.

‘Have Your Say About Film, Copyright and Piracy’ Discussion or Debate

Hold a debate or class discussion inviting students to consider the following questions:

  • Should things that are online be free?
  • Should you do things just because they are technologically possible?

To explore these questions further, you may like to ask students what type of material is usually free online, and who usually puts this material online. If someone who is not the creator of the material puts it online, is it any different to the material shared by creators?

There are numerous responses to these questions and the focus is on exploring students’ moral judgements and the differing views amongst the public on these issues. You can also use these discussion points as a guide to debate.

Do you teach intellectual property? Let us know in the comments below!

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