Taking care of creatives in the digital age: A semester at Canadian Heritage

As a student enrolled in the IP Intensive at Osgoode, I had the opportunity to intern at the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) this semester. PCH is a department of the Government of Canada. Its mandate is centered on fostering and promoting “Canadian identity and values, cultural development, and heritage”. To achieve this mandate the department collaborates with a number of different stakeholders and engages with Canadians through a wide range of programs that foster Canadian cultural preservation and expression.

During my placement I worked exclusively for the Broadcasting, Copyright and Creative Marketplace Branch (BCCM Branch) of PCH. The BCCM Branch is responsible for supporting marketplace conditions for Canada’s cultural sector. The Branch is split up into a number of different teams, each with their own responsibilities. As an intern I worked within the Marketplace and Legislative Policy (MLP) team. The MLP team advises on the cultural sector’s legislative responsibilities for broadcasting and copyright. This includes providing advice on how these frameworks can be adapted to better serve creators, creative industries, and Canadians in general. The MLP team also houses the Lab on Data, Skills and Technology (the Lab). The Lab is responsible for furthering the Department’s thinking on the impact that emerging technologies like AI and blockchain have – and will continue to have – on creatives and the creative sector.

During my first week as an intern at PCH the writ dropped. My placement spanned the entirety of the Federal election and came to an end just before the new cabinet was sworn in. As I soon learned, Federal government departments have very specific guidelines to follow during an election period. Although departments are not prohibited from making decisions or announcements, they are required to exercise restraint and fulfill their responsibilities in a non-partisan manner.

A lot of the work that was going on at PCH while I was there involved updating briefing materials and other tasks related to preparing for the new government to form. My primary work product during my placement was a research project. In my final week as an intern I had the opportunity to present my research in front of my colleagues at PCH, and colleagues from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). In addition to working on my research project, I provided research support to my colleagues and had the opportunity to sit in on a number of different meetings and attend various presentations.

Many of the presentations and meetings I attended centred around innovation and the impact that digital technologies are having on the Canadian copyright system. One example that sticks out in my mind is the panel I attended on Artificial Intelligence (AI). What really hit home for me in that presentation is how rapidly technologies like AI can change the entire landscape of copyright in Canada. Policy makers have to anticipate how new technology like AI might impact society moving forward in order to respond in as timely a manner as possible. Accumulating and analyzing good data is critical to these efforts. Without good data, crafting balanced and effective policy is an extremely difficult task.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience working as an intern at PCH. In general, my placement allowed me to gain a sense of what it’s like to work as a policy analyst for the Federal government. My colleagues truly made me feel like I was a valuable member of their team and never hesitated to provide me with constructive feedback on my work. There’s an open-door policy at PCH which made me feel comfortable going to my colleagues for advice and guidance. Having spent 10 weeks interning there it comes as no surprise to me why it was voted as one of Canada’s top 100 employers. From top to bottom PCH is filled with people that genuinely care about the well-being of their fellow colleagues.

I strongly encourage any student at Osgoode who is interested in intellectual property and technology law to apply to the IP Intensive. It is easily one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I have had as a law student.

Written by Lucas Colantoni, Osgoode JD Candidate, enrolled in Professors D’Agostino and Vaver 2019/2020 IP & Technology Law Intensive Program at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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