Experiencing International Policy Perspectives of Canadian Copyright: A Semester with Canadian Heritage (IP Intensive Reflection)

Shawayne Lawrence-Williams is an IP Intensive student and a 3L JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

During law school, there are a wide variety of opportunities to gain meaningful experience in many environments of the legal field. It is important to complement whatever you learn in a classroom with hands-on experience, and I am proud to report that the IP Intensive program gave me an opportunity to do so with a placement at Canadian Heritage.

I barely knew anything about Canadian Heritage before my placement, but I ended up learning a lot about the organization quickly. The Department of Canadian Heritage is an organization under the federal government that runs a variety of branches and teams, with the overall objective of promoting Canadian values and cultural development.

My placement was on the International Copyright Team, under the International Trade Branch in the Cultural Affairs sector. The team manages a variety of different files, including protecting and promoting Indigenous Arts and Cultural Expressions, working with various international IP committees, consultations on IP and cultural policies, various research projects related to cultural industries, and more.

Most of the work was done virtually, but it was still a fulfilling experience. I had plenty of opportunities to work closely with my colleagues at the department and received lots of support as I went through various research and writing tasks related to different policies. I came in with almost no knowledge, but I found myself learning a variety of interesting things every week. Even though I was at home, I felt like a valued part of the team.

My initial goals were to find as many interesting experiences and learning opportunities as possible, and I was pleased with the results. As an internship student, I got the chance to listen to informative presentations, participate in meetings, and opportunities to research and write about a variety of topics. From the beginning, I was able to spend time learning about cutting edge NFT technologies, and as I progressed through my term, I got to write in-depth on policies like Artist Resale Rights, Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Arts and Cultural Expressions, and more.

I was able to get in on the ground floor on policy development during my time at Canadian Heritage. When looking at new policies like Artist Resale Rights in Canada, one must think about a variety of considerations. My internship gave me the ability to deep dive into a variety of topics related to the policy, not just the legal considerations. I looked at the realities and impacts such a policy might have on Indigenous communities, methods of consultation, and how it might assist Canada on the international stage. If you want to become something of an expert on the considerations of developing policy, this internship is for you.

Not only did this placement give me a taste of the pace of a government work setting, it also gave me a newfound appreciation for how policies are drafted. As a law student, we frequently see the results of laws and policies, but we do not get to see the preliminary planning stages behind them. There’s an immense amount of work that goes into planning, consulting, strategizing, and bringing a policy to a usable format. As a student at Canadian Heritage, you will have a front row seat to the initial stages of the process.

I enjoyed my time with the International Copyright Team at Canadian Heritage and wish that the intensive term could be longer. Wherever I end up after law school, I know that the insights I learned here on policy development helped me to be a better researcher, and a better writer. It enriched my law school experience in a way that a classroom just can’t match.

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