Personal profile

Biography

Smita is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law  in Edinburgh Law School. She studied at the University of Buckingham (LLB (Hons)), the University of Cambridge (LLM), and at Queen's University Belfast (PhD). Before undertaking her doctoral studies, she also practised as an advocate in commercial and intellectual property law.

She combines legal expertise in copyright and related rights with socio-legal research on intellectual property law in the ‘real world’. She has been involved in several RCUK funded research projects that have empirically examined how copyright intersects with the everyday lives and practices of online creative communities, arts and humanities researchers, and professional creators and performers, as well as how creators’ organisations shape copyright policy. Her publications provide a strong representation of artists’ understandings, voices, and concerns, about copyright, as a community separate from other stakeholders, and underline how insights from the lived everyday experiences of copyright challenge existing economic and legal assumptions about both what creative practitioners want and the meanings they associate with legal protections.  She is currently leading a UKRI funded project on Streaming Services in the Music Industry.

Smita has drawn on empirical insights from her projects to contribute to policy discussions (e.g. UK music streaming inquiry; CMO regulation in Kenya), to inform the practice of creative industry organisations and practitioners (e.g. Edinburgh Fringe Central, Society of Young Publishers, Scottish Book Trust, Glasgow Comic Con), and to engage the general public on the role and value of copyright (e.g. Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe).

Smita is the founding and acting Programme Director for the on-campus LLM in Intellectual Property Law and teaches on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate intellectual property courses in the Law School. She also contributes to cross-disciplinary teaching on the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s MSc in Creative Industries. She is a co-author of the textbook Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy (3rd, 4th, and 5th eds, Oxford University Press; 6th ed forthcoming 2023).

Smita has undertaken various leadership roles within and outwith the Law School. She has acted as the Director of Knowledge Exchange and Impact, Chair of Recruitment Strategy Taskforce, and Co-convenor of the Empirical Legal Research Network. She is a Director (IP Law) of the SCRIPT Centre. She is also a trustee of the Socio-Legal Studies Association, serving on its executive board as International Liaison officer, Chair of the Open Access working group, and as the Scottish representative. She is Supervising editor (IP) for SCRIPTed: A journal of Law, Technology & Society, Section Editor: Law & Legal Studies for the Open Library of Humanities, and a member of the editorial advisory board of The IP Law Book Review.

Current Research Interests

Smita is interested in substantive law on copyright and related rights, in using empirical research to address questions pertaining to copyright law and policy, and, in exploring connections between Intellectual Property law and new forms of property and culture through the lens of creators and users. Her recent socio-legal research evaluates the complexities of copyright in a ‘real world’ context focussing on the intersection of copyright law with the everyday lives of creative practitioners. 

Smita was lead Investigator on two Research Councils UK funded CREATe (RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy) projects. The first project investigated the role of copyright in day to day creative practice and resulting business models of individual creators. Through the project, she actively engaged with a broad range of creators and performers and her research included over 130 semi-structured in-depth interviews with a range of creative practitioners (writers, comic-book artists, musicians, and visual artists), fieldwork at literary and art festivals and events, and secondary data from social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter. The second project explored the relationship between copyright policy and creators' organisations. It involved a socio-legal study of creators’ organisations (Musicians’ Union, the Performing Right Society, the Society of Authors, and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) as participants and shapers of copyright policy.

She was co-Investigator on an AHRC project, lead by Professor Charlotte Waelde, which evaluated the copyright challenges faced by arts and humanities researchers. It offered a new evaluation of the copyright challenges, in the everyday practice by arts and humanities researchers, in developing and making available publicly funded research content. Based on in-depth case studies of six different AHRC-funded projects, the research highlighted: both pertinent and lesser known challenges faced by researchers, such as in negotiating access to and the use of out-of-copyright materials in archives; and the benefits that could be derived from the acknowledgement of authorship and collaborative research itself.

In 2012, she collaborated with Dr Penny Travlou from the Edinburgh College of Art and was Co-Investigator on the project "Creation and Publication of the Digital Manual" (six-month pilot study, funded by the AHRC under its Digital Transformations in Arts and Humanities Theme).

Research Groups

Smita is a member of the SCRIPT Centre at Edinburgh Law School. She is also a member the Digital Cultural Heritage and the Media and Communications research clusters at the University of Edinburgh.

Websites

Keywords

  • K Law (General)

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