Meet Our New Faculty | Dr. Arul Scaria
July 7, 2022
We are extremely pleased to welcome another faculty member, Dr. Arul George Scaria, who joins us as Associate Professor for the Academic Year 2022-23. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition (CIIPC) at NLU Delhi, and was a CSIR-NIF Fellow at the National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad. At NLSIU, he will be teaching across various academic programmes, starting with the LL.M. and Ph.D. programmes this term. In the subsequent terms, he will be offering an elective course within the broad area of law, technology and society, and teach students of the BA LLB programme.
In this interview, he shares more about his interests and his work.
Can you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I was privileged to be born in a family which believed that books are the best investments in life! My parents still own and live in just 7 or 8 cents of land in a small town in Kerala after working for 30+ years, but we have a house full of books! My friends used to joke that they can find books in all rooms in my parents house, except may be the washrooms (sometimes you may find books there too!). May be due to their extensive readings, I was never forced to do what they think as the best for me – they allowed me to chart my own journeys. This really helped me to learn through my own experiments and mistakes. For example, though my parents never insisted on writing the entrance exams for medicine and engineering, I opted for writing them (partly due to the fact that they meant opportunities for travel!) and got terribly bad ranks. But in the same year, I got one of the highest ranks in the Kerala law entrance exam which helped me secure admission in an institution that has produced some of the best lawyers and judges – Government Law College (GLC), Ernakulam. While it may not be the best institution in the country in terms of infrastrucutre, the space it provided for free thinking, and the friendships that grew from there (both among peers and teachers!), certainly played a major positive role in my academic and personal life. This, in a nut-shell, was the beginning of my journey in law!
Outside of work, I love travelling, especially road trips and hiking, and meeting new people.
Since you grew up in a house full of books, any recommendations you would like to share?
- Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
- Lawrence Lessing, Free Culture
- Mariana Mazzucato, The Entrepreneurial State
What are your main areas of interest and teaching?
My broad area of research and teaching interest is interface of law, technology and society. My writings and teaching are clustered around intellectual property, competition law and open science. My interest in IP began during my LLM at NALSAR where I chose the subject as my specialisation. IP was an emerging area at that time and not many law schools in India were offering IP courses. The books and online databases at NALSAR showed me the unlimited opportunities for research in IP.
On the teaching front, teaching the mandatory survey course on IP for undergraduate students has always been a fascinating experience, because of the kind of questions we hear from young students. I also like teaching electives in the areas of IP and competition law. The collaborations with Prof. William Fisher and Prof. Ruth Okediji, particularly as an affiliate faculty of the CopyrightX programme of Harvard Law School, have also been very helpful in experimenting new pedagogical approaches and courses.
Since you have worked extensively in the area of Intellectual Property, tell us more about your work.
After completing LL.M., I thought I should pursue litigation and started practising in the High Court of Kerala. But I slowly realised that litigation was not my cup of tea. I joined as a CSIR-NIF Fellow at the National Innovation Foundation as I thought that it would give me opportunities to see the practical sides of the IP system. It was the work at NIF, under the guidance of Prof. Anil K. Gupta (Professor, IIM Ahmedabad; Founder, Honeybee Network; former Executive Vice-Chair, NIF), that really helped to broaden my perspectives on what IP means (or should mean!) for the common people.
It gave me immense opportunities to work with grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge holders across the country, learn IP filings and IP management, and also helped me to represent the Honeybee network on IP issues at different national and international forums including WIPO. The confidence and trust Prof. Gupta showed me were also life lessons on how to be an excellent teacher as well as mentor.
When I joined NLU Delhi, I was given the opportunity to continue focusing on research and teaching in IP. The academic and research ecosystem at NLU Delhi and the freedom given helped me experiment with new teaching and research projects. The opportunities I received for teaching abroad have been yet another enriching learning experience. All these aspects really helped in furthering my interest and whatever little learnings I have in this area.
You were recently appointed as an independent expert by the Delhi High Court. Could you please tell us more about it?
Yes, the Delhi High Court had apppointed me as an expert to provide opinion in one of the copyright litigations and I’m thankful to Hon’ble Jus. Prathibha Singh for inviting an academic to contribute to an on-going litigation. I was requested to provide views on Sec. 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act 1957, which is a provision that exempts from liability use of copyrighted works during official and religious ceremonies. Through an explanation, the Section has included marriage procession and other social festivities associated with a marriage within the ambit of ‘religious ceremonies’. My assignment is to assist the Court in better identifying the scope of that provision. I truly hope that my contributions in this regard will inspire more such interactions between judiciary and academia in India.
Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?
The best way to assess an institution is to look at the kind of students it produces. If that’s the key parameter, NLS is already a global leader in education, as NLS students have made major impacts on diverse walks of life across the globe, including academia and litigation. I truly hope that I will be able to add value to the excellent teaching profile of the University through innovative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative courses in the area of law, technology and society. I also intend to contribute to NLSIU’s research profile by strengthening research in this area through more research projects, policy contributions, and discussions.
What will you be teaching at NLSIU?
I’m starting my teaching journey at NLS with the Research Methodology course. Research, and particularly research ethics, hasn’t been receiving due attention in most of our institutions and this has led to serious crises in the quality of research and access to research outputs from our institutions. I have been trying to highlight some of those challenges through my research and discussions, including the Open Science India Report (2019) and a report recently prepared for UNESCO on challenges and opportunities for Open Science in four South Asian countries.
I hope that the course I offer at NLS would make students aware of some of the very fundamental things they need to keep in mind as a researcher – both in terms of how research is conducted, and how research outputs are disseminated. Unlike a traditional taught course, this will be a course based on Socratic discussions and extensive activities throughout the course. At the end of the course, I hope that students will be able to not just write their papers/ dissertations better, but also critically approach the discussions on some of the global challenges in research.
Could you please highlight some of your key projects/publications?
One of my recent projects was an UNESCO funded project on challenges and opportunities for open science in four South Asian countries. I’m currently part of an international project initiated by the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition on data sharing in emerging economies. Besides a couple of writing projects, I’m also working with a colleague at IIT Delhi on a project titled ‘Algorithmic Bias and the Law’.
A few of my key publications include –
- Piracy in the Indian Film Industry: Copyright and Cultural Consonance (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
- My Masters thesis that was published as a book: Ambush Marketing- Game Within A Game (Oxford University Press, 2008)
- Open Science India Report (NLU Delhi Press, 2019)