The Importance of Copyright for Young Creators and Innovators: World IP Day 2022

One morning last week, I was waiting for the cappuccino I’d ordered at Starbucks, half asleep and half thinking about all I had to accomplish that day regarding our World IP Day 2022 (WIPD) panel. Then, a song started playing that’s one of my recent favorites, “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, who happens to be an uber talented singer and songwriter and is considered a “young creator” as she is just 20 years old. In an instant, hearing this electro-pop, indie song put me in a much lighter mood and set the tone for the rest of the day. It also reminded me of just how inspiring a favorite song, a great movie, an intriguing book, or colorful piece of art can be when we least expect it (and perhaps when we most need it).

This week, we celebrate creators across all genres of creativity who keep us feeling inspired through the works they share with us every single day. In particular we are celebrating budding young painters, singers, software coders, writers, vloggers, actors, and other creators, as this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) focuses on IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future for its 2022 WIPD theme.

The theme that WIPO selected, IP and Youth, is both forward-looking and forward-reaching, as it celebrates young creators, artists, and innovators, while also underscoring the importance of keeping their current and future works safe through intellectual property protections such as copyright. Intellectual property law, including copyright law, emboldens young creators to explore and expand their imagination and creativity by offering them the tools and guidance to contribute positively to society and culture.

Why Learning About Copyright Is Important for Young Creators

From books and movies to videogames and songs to photos and much more—copyright law applies to any creative work of the human mind or imagination, even a child’s original finger painting! So, having an understanding of what copyright law is and does will help to arm young minds with the knowledge of their rights as a creator and their responsibility to fellow artists to use someone else’s works with permission when necessary. With this knowledge, young creators have the confidence to not only create and express themselves with confidence but also how to best reach audiences while fostering their ability to develop additional creative works. For example, a young creator might create a work to license to others that would help her gather resources for the next creative project. Or a child or young adult who understands the concept of the fair use exception under copyright, will also understand which parts of copyrighted works can be used without express permission from a copyright holder when—for example—they are writing a report or pursuing a creative project.

A strong knowledge of copyright law also makes young creators good stewards of the arts and shapes the approach they will take regarding the creations they come across in both the digital and non-digital worlds. An informed and educated group of young creators means that they will understand how to protect their own works as well as how to respect the rights of fellow creators. This scenario results in a vibrant and productive creative environment that copyright law is meant to foster.

And although copyright law may seem complicated at first, young creators will eventually find that it’s not that daunting, especially when there are numerous resources that can help, including those listed below.

Resources That Help Young Creators Learn About Copyright

  • Copyright for Kids (U.S. Copyright Office) — This site is hosted by the Copyright Office, which is the government office that handles registrations for creator works. It encourages kids to try their hand at making something creative that is eligible for copyright protection.
  • How to Teach Copyright and Fair Use to Students (Edutopia) — According to Edutopia, “When you model proper use of online images and text, students can learn how to protect themselves, and respect the work of others.”
  • Copyright and Fair Use for Students (Bibliography.com) — As noted by Bibliography.com, “It’s important to understand how copyright law affects [someone] as it’s a serious business.”
  • Copyright and Creativity (C&C) — C&C materials aim to provide “accessible and practical information about copyright – [including] its protections, its limitations, and its role in encouraging creativity.”

Advice from the Experts to Young Creators

This year, to celebrate World IP Day on April 26, the Copyright Alliance facilitated a panel discussion with some amazing young creators and creator advocates titled Copyright and Youth: Creating a Better Future, which young creators can view here. During the discussion, the panel discussed topics such as how bright, curious, and talented young minds are transformed into tomorrow’s musicians, artists, writers, actors, photographers, video game designers, and many other types of creators and innovators; how to provide real world examples and education for students to model and learn from as they become career-minded creative professionals themselves; how young creators and innovatorslearn about protecting their works through copyright and other forms of IP; and much more.

During the event, panelists shared their advice for young creators and for those who teach youth about copyright on what young creators and their supporters should keep in mind. Check out what the panelists had to say below:

Learning how to navigate copyright is something that [as a creator] you’ll need to do, as it’s an important skill in your toolkit… [and when teaching kids about copyright], keep it positive. Talk about what copyright is for and what it does to support creators. And keep it practical [by talking about] how kids can legally access and use content, and why it’s important to do things the right way.

David Sohn, Copyright and Creativity

[When learning about something like copyright], lean into it, instead of away from it. Figure things out, ask questions, and know there are resources to help you.

Addie Clark, fine artist and recent college graduate

[Young artists and creators should] know your value, know your worth; and you do this through education and through a good community base. You’ll learn how to use copyright and how to protect your works.

Janet Hicks, Artist Rights Society

[As a young creator], you are not alone in navigating [how to protect your works]. We can feel like we are doing it alone, doing it solo, but there are so many resources out there to help you.

Kim Tignor, Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice

[Young creators] are our legacy, our future, and we want [them] to hone their knowledge at a young age. Find partners and work with school systems to educate yourself about IP and copyright.

Kick Lee, Cincinnati Music Accelerator

Wise Words from the Register of Copyrights

In celebrating World IP Day with creators across the country and across the world, the lead representative of the U.S. Copyright Office, Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter, shared a video message in which she states that, “This year’s [WIPO World IP Day theme], IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future, is an inspired choice. In creating their own works of authorship, young people are emerging as thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs, and leading the way to cultural and scientific progress.”

If there is any question as to why today’s youth should be both educated about their rights under intellectual property law and celebrated for their works, Register Perlmutter sums it up perfectly. It’s because they are the hope, the innovators, the creators, and the leaders of the future. And the sooner they understand how to be good stewards of the arts, protecting their own works and respecting the works of others, the better and more innovative, educated, and diverse our society’s culture will be through the works that they contribute.


If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

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