Plagiarism and Intellectual Property

Course(s) Used:

  • Public Speaking

Goals and Objectives:

  • Students understand the difference between copyrighted and public domain material.
  • Students can list the common types of Creative Commons licenses and their meaning.
  • Students understand fair use and its limitations.
  • Students understand the difference between citing a work and having license to use the work.

Rationale: Avoiding plagiarism and theft is very important. There are many ways to accidentally use content without providing proper citation.

Materials Needed


  • A computer with Internet access for demonstration


  • At least one computer with Internet access per group

Outline of the Lesson

  1. Review of previous session’s content
  2. Lesson opening
  3. Review citing sources and plagiarism
  4. Public domain
    1. Age
    2. Public works, such as US government works
    3. Renounced/Waived Copyright (CC0, for example)
  5. Licensing
    1. Explicit licensing
    2. Creative Commons
  6. Fair Use from 17 USC § 107 1 > “…the fair use of a copyrighted work…for purposes such as > criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple > copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an > infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of > a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be > considered shall include— > > 1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    > 2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    > 3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    > 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”
  7. Concerns beyond legal concerns
  8. Course expectations
  9. Lesson closing


Students get no practice or hands-on experience with citation in this lesson plan. This lesson needs to be paired with an additional lesson where citation and licensing are practiced.

Variations and Accommodations

Follow guidance from local accommodation authorities. This lesson relies on online resources that are demonstrated visually through a projector. Students who require accommodation may follow-along on their personal devices, if needed.

  1. 17 USC § 107. Retrieved from ^