On March 23rd, teams from Canadian law schools convened at the University of Ottawa to compete in the inaugural Copyright Policy Moot organized in conjunction with Canadian Heritage and Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada.
Unlike a traditional moot, the Copyright Policy Moot was designed so that students could gain experience in drafting public policy and conducting a policy briefing. Rather than preparing a factum, the students engaged in a different sort of persuasive writing: the “Memorandum to Cabinet.” And instead of arguing before judges, the students defended their policy proposals in front of senior policymakers, seeking to persuade them that their proposals should become law. The Moot was timed to coincide with the s. 92 parliamentary review of the Copyright Act, which allowed for the mooters to not just compete in the academic arena, but also to have a real chance to shape Canadian copyright policy.
Osgoode sent three teams to the moot, comprised of Stephen Cooley, Roger Angus, Alexandria Chun, Will Chalmers, Cameron McMaster, Ankita Nayar, and Amanda Rosenstock. Ren Bucholz, a lawyer at Paliare Roland LLP, spent the winter semester coaching the teams and provided input in the development of their Memoranda to Cabinet. The proposals submitted by the Osgoode teams concerned a broad range of topics: an innovative method for compensating entrepreneurial musical artists; a sui generis copyright for the programmers of AI-generated works; and using the Copyright Board’s tariff scheme to provide fair compensation for authors when AI utilizes their copyright protected works.
At the Moot, 16 teams from Université de Montréal, University of Ottawa, McGill University, Osgoode Hall Law School, and the University of Toronto convened in the morning at Fauteux Hall at the University of Ottawa. After opening remarks, the preliminary rounds commenced, with each team presenting their policy proposal to panels made up of three policy experts. During the 20-minute presentations, the panel would interrupt the competitors to ask questions. In answering the questions, the mooters had to be poised and had to understand their subject matter well in order to persuade the panels that their proposal deserved the attention of lawmakers.
After the preliminary rounds, the top four teams (including Osgoode’s team of Alexandria Chun and Will Chalmers) were announced. Those teams were to participate in the finals at the Grand Oral. In the final rounds, the competitors were challenged with tough questions from Nathalie Théberge, Director General, Creative Marketplace and Innovation, Canadian Heritage, and Mark Schaan, Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. In the end, the team of Ashley Seely, Jamaloddin Hakimi, and Roxanne Alam from University of Ottawa was successful in winning the top prize for best policy briefing. The full results of the competition can be found here.
The Osgoode teams dominated the written submission component of the competition. The team of Alexandria Chun and Will Chalmers won the prize for the top Memorandum to Cabinet, while, Cameron McMaster, Ankita Nayar and Amanda Rosenstock won the second-place prize. Osgoode was also the only school to have teams place in the final-four for both the written component and the briefing component of the competition.
The Copyright Policy Moot was an incredible experience. It allowed us to see the role lawyers have in shaping Canadian legal policies and provided an opportunity for us to practice our oral advocacy skills. Furthermore, we had the chance to explore Ottawa and to see the Parliament buildings and the Supreme Court. Between the sightseeing, midnight pool parties at the hotel, and the rush of defending our own copyright policy proposals, this experience has certainly been a highlight of our legal education.
(L-R: Ankita Nayar, Cameron McMaster, Roger Angus, Amanda Rosenstock, Stephen Cooley, Alexandria Chun, Will Chalmers)
William Chalmers is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School