IP Intensive Program: A Semester at TVO

I recently completed an IP Intensive Placement with TVOntario (TVO) and the experience could not have been any better.

Spending the semester at TVO gave me a fascinating and enjoyable look into the world of in-house lawyers. In-house lawyers deal with a broad range of issues including corporate, IP, tax, privacy and even estate law. The fact that TVO is a crown agency and charity added even more breadth to the legal issues I encountered during my placement.

The legal team at TVO also work closely alongside the business affairs department. This proximity allowed me to be involved in a number of deals for the co-production and acquisition of television properties as well as touch on a broad array of legal issues. As a result, I became well-acquainted with the business affairs people over the course of my time with TVO. Our casual chats provided an unexpected benefit in that they gave me a very good sense of what deals were coming through the department and the important issues for those deals from a business and legal perspective. When the lawyers asked me to look into legal issues surrounding a particular point in a deal, I understood the context in which they were asking the question. Unlike private practice, the focus of my research was frequently less about finding a way to advocate an issue and more about finding a way to meet the business needs of the organization.

Much of my research involved broadcast law. The Canadian television industry has a unique landscape that is heavily regulated. The rights to individual programs are founded in copyright law but shaped by the requirements of public funding agencies like the Canada Media Fund (CMF). CMF mandates that certain rights be held by producers and creates thresholds for the amount of rights that broadcasters can or must retain in individual projects. In addition, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandates certain requirements for broadcasters in terms of how much Canadian content they air. Throughout my placement I became increasingly familiar with this regulatory landscape.

On a personal level, the best part of the placement was by far the attitude that everybody at TVO had about having me on as a student. From the first day the vibe was that they were glad to be a part of the IP Intensive and went out of their way to make sure I would get the most of out the experience. I was invited to meetings. I was asked what kind of work I was interested in doing. My supervisors checked in frequently to make sure that my expectations were being met. By the same token, whenever I submitted work there was constructive feedback.

My great experience at TVO was a direct result of what makes the IP Intensive such a unique and rewarding program. Although the focus of the program is on IP law broadly, the focus is also on getting students into placements where they will thrive. From my first interview for a spot in the program, there was a strong emphasis from the faculty on finding out what kind of experience I was looking to have and what type of organization I thought would provide that experience. My placement at TVO was a direct response to making the faculty aware that I am an unabashed film and TV business geek. For students considering the IP Intensive in future years, I strongly recommend considering what areas they find appealing and communicating it to the program director and faculty early on during the application process.

The IP Intensive is a great way to spend a semester.

Ryan Keller is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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