My semester at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as part of Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program (IP Intensive) was an incredible–and frankly intense–experience. Each day presented new challenges and learning opportunities, which made for an exciting ten weeks. By the end of the placement, I wished that I could have stay longer.
Within the first week of the internship, I was surprised by all the different areas of law that were involved in running a public broadcast company. As a media outlet, the legal team at CBC must work closely with journalists and content creators to make decisions that are editorially and creatively sound while also avoiding infringing upon third-party intellectual property rights. This is much easier said than done, considering the ease at which individuals can go on the internet and appropriate material without even realizing they are violating copyright or trademark law. Journalists must tread carefully when using third-party content, and the lawyers at CBC play a key role in preventing such infringement.
On the business side, CBC’s legal department must arrange the licensing of content and stay within the bounds of telecommunications regulations. And as a Crown corporation, CBC must comply with various governmental regulation in areas like procurement and financial administration. The legal department at CBC has the difficult task of balancing these different areas of law, as well as the interests of the various stakeholders involved with the organization: journalists, content creators, the audience, and the general public, just to name a few.
I was amazed by the variety of issues that the legal department faced. For every routine task (like reviewing a licensing agreement), there were a dozen novel ones. I was exposed to new areas of law that I had not been previously familiar with, such as defamation and contest law. I also saw novel issues in areas that I was familiar with, like copyright and trademark, and found that the solutions to these questions were not as simple as the issues we had learned about in class. Intellectual property and media law are constantly changing to keep up with modern technologies and entertainment services. And with the movement toward global digital distribution, seemingly simple IP issues become much more dynamic and involved.
One of the most important lessons I learned about being an in-house lawyer is that not everything is a legal question. It takes a great deal of business knowledge and judgment to determine which issues are worth pursuing. As a student, it was a really valuable experience to see this decision process in action at a complex organization like CBC.
I am grateful to the entire legal team at CBC for making my placement one of the most enriching and valuable experiences of my time at law school. I am also very thankful to IP Osgoode for organizing the IP Intensive Program and facilitating this placement.
Alexandria Chun is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.