Lesley Ellen Harris is an Osgoode Hall Law School Alumnus (’85) who is a copyright lawyer/consultant and works on legal, business, and strategic issues in the publishing, content, entertainment, Internet, and information industries. She is the editor of the Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter and the author of several books. Her newest book is Licensing Digital Content: A Practical Guide for Librarians.
We asked Lesley a few questions about her career experience and thoughts on IP.
1. Why did you choose a career in IP?
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in writing and publishing. I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up working in law or perhaps a career related to writing and publishing. So I took as many courses as I could related to writing and publishing – contracts, copyright law and entertainment law.
2. What is a “must read” IP article/book?
Read everything — I especially like to be aware of writings for non-lawyers. Since much of copyright compliance is voluntary, education of the public is extremely important. Creating a “copyright culture” in Canada is an essential on-going project.
3. Why should a prospective law student consider a career in IP?
It’s interesting and dynamic — since technology and media is always changing, I think we have some interesting applications of law ahead of us and what fun to be a part of that! I was lucky to begin my career in copyright in the summer of 1984 while still at Osgoode. I was a summer student for the lobbying group, Canadian Copyright Institute. Back then, the issues were mostly related to print and analog technology. I feel like I had great experience in the old media before applying the same principles to the newer media. It’s a bit different now since most starting out in IP would be dealing with newer media and technology. However, there are more and more jobs in IP both in Canada and internationally. I think an IP career is interesting and also creative — plus you get to work with great people which IP seems to attract.
4. Any message that you would like to give to IP Osgoode readers?
Be open minded about copyright. Don’t always side with creators and owners, or users and consumers, of copyright-protected materials. We are all creators, owners and consumers at some time in our lives. Think through each issue without having a preconceived idea. And be careful about being extreme, for example all content should be free — always think about the other side when you feel that you are siding with one side of the balance.
5. What are the most significant changes at Osgoode Hall Law School since you were a student?
IP Osgoode! I see many law schools in the U.S. now have IP centres and I am delighted to see Osgoode taking a similar role.