Five minutes with…Hayleigh Bosher, Brunel University London
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Five minutes with…Hayleigh Bosher, Brunel University London

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Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP practitioner about their life and career

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP practitioners on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Hayleigh Bosher, associate professor in IP law at Brunel University London

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

I’ve learned that if I say that I’m an academic, the most common follow-up is a blank face. And then if I try to explain what academia is to someone outside of academia, it sounds made up: “I lecture IP Law at Brunel University, I also work in the music industry and I’m often in Parliament doing policy work, I’m a researcher, author, blogger, podcaster...” Doubt creeps across their face… that’s at least five jobs?!

So, I tend to say the sexiest version of what I do, which is that I help musicians understand more about their rights and work with policymakers to try and make the rules fairer.

Talk us through a typical working day.

One of the reasons I love my job is that I don’t typically have the same day twice in a week. There is a lot of variety and autonomy, which I appreciate. I’m not a routine-orientated person and people tend to be surprised that I am not the kind of person who gets up at 5am (I prioritise sleep, so I get up a minimum of eight hours after I go to bed!)

In my schedule tomorrow, for example, is a podcast interview, delivering a guest talk (on artificial intelligence and copyright), and then attending a music industry event at Parliament in the evening.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been commissioned by Oxford University Press to write a new book covering all the law and policy relating to music in one place. I’m really excited about this project. At the same time, I am also working on a second edition of my book ‘Copyright in the Music Industry’. I’m also working on a funded project in partnership with the Royal Albert Hall and Durham University looking at accessibility for neurodivergent audiences attending live music events.

Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

I am always juggling multiple things, roles, and projects. Variety is the spice of life!

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

For me, the most exciting and fulfilling part of my job is feeling useful, at least that’s what I strive for! I like doing research, projects, and roles that feel like they are making a positive impact on the world or helping someone. This might be advocating for policy change, or helping an artist collect royalties they are owed for their music.

I don’t personally find my job stressful; I genuinely enjoy what I do. Sometimes I can get too excited and take on too many things and that can become overwhelming, I am working on saying no more often!

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer/practitioner.

I have a spin on the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. My version is: “It’s not (only) what you know, it’s how you share it.” Delivery is everything. Two people can know the same information, but the person with the ability to communicate effectively and connect with their audience is the more successful in my eyes. This requires a genuine understanding of the audience or client’s perspective.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

I recently conducted a research project for the UKIPO, the report will be published this week and is called ‘Emerging Public Perceptions of IP in the UK Media’. The research found two (unsurprising) common mistakes in UK IP news reporting. First, the mixing up of the rights; saying trademark when they mean copyright etc. Second, not understanding that IP law is jurisdictional and therefore the rules are different in different countries.

What or who inspires you?

Women who manage to be happy and successful in a patriarchal society without compromising their sense of self.

If you weren’t in IP, what would you be doing?

As a kid, I used to make my own radio shows with a double tape cassette player, I wanted to be a presenter on Blue Peter, and I did do a diploma in performing arts. So maybe if I wasn’t on the legal side of the creative industries, I’d be somewhere on the performer side!

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Of course, there are lessons that I wish I had learned sooner, but I was such a stubborn little rascal that even if someone had told me everything I know now, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway! What I would say is: sometimes, the very things that some people think are your weaknesses, turn out to be your strengths.

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