Why do children need to understand copyright?

Copyright and plagiarism can be difficult concepts for children to get to grips with, but it’s vital that they understand them. Alice Donovan of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) explains why…

In this digital age where everyone has easy access to and use of content on the web, ensuring that the next generation understand the benefits and importance of copyright to creators, the people that write and produce all the wonderful content we consume on a regular basis, is essential.

With copyright protecting their work, people are free to create as much as they want to while being safe in the knowledge that the work they produce remains their own. This is great news, as it means these creators are encouraged to provide us with even more of the great films, books, TV programmes and games we all enjoy.

ALCS is an organisation that was set up by writers, for writers. We pay out money that’s collected for the reuse of works, and we’re able to do so because of copyright.

While copyright and plagiarism sound like quite daunting topics to understand, we believe it’s important to teach children that they’re not just rules that have troublesome consequences if broken, but that copyright is also a tool for protecting creators’ rights and encouraging creativity.

By showing children that they can use copyright to their advantage with fun activities, competitions and workshops, we can help them explore and protect their full creative potential. We’ve found that by asking children to imagine themselves as a creator, they can learn about what copyright can do for them as part of this creative process. By getting them thinking about the benefits of copyright, we’re more likely to make a lasting impression on a topic that can sometimes be a little tough to teach!

We’ve teamed up with the National Literacy Trust on a number of projects over the last eight years to make sure that children have the chance to learn more about copyright in a fun but educational way. From our most recent collaborative competition Copyright Knights and Plagiarism Pirates to our KS2 and KS3 resource Get Your Copy Right, we’re proud to help educate young people about the benefits of copyright and we hope also to help inspire the next generation of writers to fulfill their creative ambitions, while understanding the importance that copyright plays in actually enabling them to earn a living from the work that they create.

The current competition that National Literacy Trust is running, Copyright Knights and Plagiarism Pirates, can be accessed here and is open for entries until May 31 2018.

You can also view and download some of the other resources we’ve created to help people understand copyright better here.



Stories, thoughts and opinions from the team at the National Literacy Trust.

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National Literacy Trust

National Literacy Trust


We are an independent charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK.