#IWD2020 Spotlight on Natasha Tusikov, Department of Social Science at York University

Natasha Tusikov joined York University in the Criminology Program within the Department of Social Science in 2017. She is currently a visiting fellow with the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University, and a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Her research examines the intersection among law, technology, and regulation, with a particular focus on regulation by internet platforms. She is the principal investigator of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant assessing data governance in smart cities with a focus on the proposed smart city development in Toronto.

After receiving her PhD in sociology from the Australian National University, Dr. Tusikov worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Baldy Centre for Law and Social Policy at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Prior to her work in academia, Dr. Tusikov was a strategic criminal intelligence analyst with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa, Canada. Her work has been published in Surveillance & Society and Internet Policy Review, and has appeared in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Toronto National Post, and The Conversation.

  1. Why did you choose a career in IP?

For my doctoral dissertation I examined the role of internet platforms countering the online trade in counterfeit goods at the behest of the US government and European Union, which I expand in my 2017 book, Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet. The role of non-state actors, particularly internet platforms, acting as regulators to address the online distribution of counterfeit goods and copyright-infringing content is an area that is under-studied in my home discipline of criminology. One of my current research interests is examining how companies making internet-of-things products use control over the products’ software to achieve what I term post-purchase control.

  1. What is a “must read” IP article/book?

A foundational book on intellectual property for me is Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite. Published in 2002, this book is as relevant as ever as it sets out how control over intangibles – intellectual property as a form of knowledge governance – is central to the global political economy. It’s also an essential text to understand the history of intellectual property rights, in particular the industry-crafted narrative that conceptually linked intellectual property with trade. This book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand how we have ended up with patent thickets and trolls, and high-profile copyright battles between internet giants and copyright holders.   

  1. Why should a prospective law student consider a career in IP?

Intellectual property rights–the control over knowledge–has emerged as a key vector of economic and political power in the global political economy. This change is reconfiguring world order. For example, trade agreements are now more about regulating knowledge than trade, while the internet of things–software-enabled physical goods–is reshaping basic notions of property, ownership and control. Scholars, activists, and policymakers are still struggling to grapple with the nature of this shift and its implications.

  1. What is the name of a mentor that has guided you in your career (and how)?

Peter Drahos, Professor of Law at the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University and, most recently, at the European University Institute, was my doctoral supervisor and has been a guiding force in my research. Dr. Drahos has long been at the forefront of critical perspectives of research on intellectual property rights with ground-breaking work particularly in the areas of copyright and patent law. In addition to underscoring the importance of always being attentive to the question of who benefits, he has always emphasized the importance of policy-relevant research, practices that I continue in my research.  

  1. What are the key substantive IP challenges that are faced in Canada and abroad that you would like to see more attention paid to?

One of the issues that I’m closely watching is the right-to-repair debate that’s playing out largely in the United States and to a much lesser extent in Canada. With the incorporation of software into all manner of goods–from tractors, televisions, and vehicles to toys, medical devices, and fitness wearables – the ability of consumers to repair the products they’ve purchased has become an increasingly politicized debate. While policymakers and activists have been active in the United States, a similar debate has not yet occurred in Canada.

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