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February 15, 2013

A penny for your thoughts, movies, or music?

By Lisa Greeves


Arts & Culture, Technology

Estimated Time

This lesson will take 2-3 class periods, but can easily be divided up into segments. Steps 1, 2, and 3 can be done in Class #1. Step 4 can be done during Class #2 and completed for homework; you can add additional research time in if you need it. Step 5 can be done in Class #3. Step #6 can be done for homework.

Grade Level



As the entertainment industry begins taking more drastic steps to curb the downloading of musical and entertainment works from the Internet, the issues involved in this new form of copyright violation become more complicated and the ethical implications begin to affect other areas of everyday life. Explore with your students in more depth the different sides of this controversial situation and the ethical implications for society as a whole, and assign students to practice persuasive presentations to illustrate different points-of-view.


Copyright – the exclusive right to the publication, production, or sale of the rights to a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, or to the use of a commercial print or label, granted by law for a specified period of time to an author, composer, artist, distributor, etc.


  • Have students write in their notebooks for five minutes responding to the following questions:When was the last time you downloaded music? Do you feel it is OK or not to download music or other entertainment files from the Internet? Why or why not?
  • When they finish, encourage a few students to share their opinions and experiences with the class.
  • Have students read copies of Handout #1 (Newshour Extra article) and Handout #2, NewsHour transcript “Copyright Angst”.
  • To review the content of the article, brainstorm on the board together the different sides of this copyright violation argument. Students may need to reread passages from “Copyright Angst” to glean some of the different perspectives. Some perspectives that students should hone in on include:
    • The consumer’s perspective
    • The private citizen’s perspective
    • The recording artist or actor’s perspective
    • this entertainment industry’s perspective
    • The technology industry’s perspective
  • Your students may be able to come up with other sides to this situation that aren’t covered in the articles. List those on the board also. Draw different boxes on the board for each perspective, label each, and write out a summary of that perspective.
  • Now tell students that they are going to adopt one of these perspectives as their own, research that perspective in more depth, and develop a persuasive presentation that captures the essence of that perspective.Students will work in small groups and adopt a certain viewpoint in this debate on downloading, participate in a group research assignment, present their findings to the class, and attempt to persuade their peers to subscribe to their assigned point-of-view regarding the downloading of entertainment files.

    Students will hold on to their original statements of opinions about this situation, and after researching in more depth and listening to other group’s points-of-view, they will revisit their own original stand and see if and how it has changed.Divide students into five groups and assign each group a title from the following list:

    • Musicians–Against: A group of musicians who are against downloading music files; students may conduct research and play the part of actual musicians who share this view;
    • Musicians – Pro: A group of musicians who support being able to download music files; students may conduct research and play the part of actual musicians who share this view;
    • Executives – A group of music and entertainment industry executives;
    • Parents – A group of parents from your state who earn average salaries and are raising teenagers.
    • Attorneys – Pro: A group of attorneys who are defending several teenagers recently charged with illegally downloading music files.
  • Each group will research as much information as they can find about this particular category of people to find facts that would pertain to that category’s stand on downloading entertainment files. Encourage each group to find facts and figures to support their stand. For instance, students assigned to the “Parents” group could research the average salary in your area, average expenses per family, average amount of money they are able to devote to each child, etc.All groups should be expected to grapple with the issues of stealing, repercussions for one’s actions, greed, money, and honesty in some fashion. Provide students with access to the Internet, business magazines, or newspapers to aid in their research and posterboard or newsprint and markers for their illustrations. Each group will illustrate their findings in a chart or visual and give a presentation explaining their group’s point of view as it applies to digital copyright violation.Encourage students to be creative in their presentations, even humorous if appropriate, but emphasize that their information and persuasive tactics must be factually informed.

    Groups should provide you with a bibliography of all sources used.You might want to reserve research time for your students in the school library and allow students a class period or two of research time to work on their presentations.

  • Allow each group to present their stand, support, and findings to the class. Encourage students to question their peers on their stands and support. Remind students that they are trying to persuade their peers to subscribe to their point of view.
  • After all presentations have been completed, assign students to write a two-page reaction to the group presentations and to explain which mode of thought they subscribe to now after hearing more facts and figures and different perspectives.Students should also write about what kind of solution they would propose to this problem of illegal downloading. How would their solution work? When the responses are turned in, take a poll to see how many students ended up changing their original opinions.
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    Relevant National Standards:
      NCSS Standards
    • Culture; Science, Technology, and Society; and Civic Ideals and Practices

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