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Section 5. Advocacy

Learning Objectives

Students will understand:

  • that ideas about copyright are in transition as a result of changes in communication technologies¬†
  • how the "best practices" model enables creative communities to develop a robust interpretation of fair use that is responsive to their actual practices and uses of copyrighted materials


Copies of the attached PDF file, The Future of Intellectual Property: Three Views 


Reading (A): attached PDF, The Future of Intellectual Property: Three Views

Read about the differences between the Creative Commons approach, the best practices approach, and the commons-based economic models of understanding intellectual property.

Reading (B) & (C): Madison, M.J. (2005). Fair use, social practices, and the future of copyright reform. Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, 23(2), 391-418. Available at:

Madison re-imagines copyright's fair use doctrine with a social practices approach, arguing that the approach should be recognized in the text of the statute as well as in judicial applications of fair use.

Lesson Plan

Read and discuss.  Break students into 3 groups. Each group reads one part of the reading. Students in team 1 read the section about Creative Commons. Students in team 2 reads the sections about the Best Practices approach, and students in team 3 read the section about open-source models to information sharing. After students read the passages, invite them to work in groups to identify key ideas of the passage. Then using a jigsaw method, re-group students from the different groups together so that they  may similarities and differences between the three approaches. You may ask them to create a Venn diagram to capture key ideas.

Critical thinking.  What are the strengths and limitations of each of the three perspectives offered in the reading?  Have students work with a partner or small group to discuss the question:  what are some possible short-term and long term consequences to these new approaches to the future of intellectual property? 

PRESENTATION ACTIVITY. Working with a partner, develop a 5-minute speech that explains what you've learned about copyright.  Integrate at least one copyrighted work into your presentation in a way that demonstrates your understanding of fair use.

WRITING ACTIVITY.  Write a position paper that describes and defines your own beliefs about (1) your expectations and beliefs about your rights as a copyright owner, someone who creates intellectual property and (2) your expectations and beliefs about your rights as a user of other people's copyrighted materials.  Consider answering these questions: As an owner, what ethical obligations do you have to users? As a user, what ethical obligations do you have to owners?