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Ruth Okediji

  • Group of people sitting around an illustration of Earth.

    A kaleidoscope of views on globalization

    November 23, 2021

    At a Harvard Law School book talk and discussion on “Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why It Matters,” panelists discussed the authors' major narratives for and against the economic phenomenon.

  • L.O. Natt Gantt

    Gantt named executive director of Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies at HLS

    September 13, 2021

    L.O. Natt Gantt, II ’94 has been appointed the inaugural executive director of the Harvard Law School Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies and a lecturer on law at HLS.

  • A group of ten students pose outside at granite bench on the Harvard Law School campus.

    Tips for law school success

    August 31, 2021

    Harvard Law School faculty and staff share what they wished they’d known about doing well and staying well in law school — useful whether you’re a first-year student just beginning your journey, an LL.M., S.J.D., or a 3L preparing to make your mark on the world.

  • Keyon Lo

    The alchemist

    May 27, 2021

    Keyon Lo LL.M. ’21 hopes to combine his legal and artistic skills to promote fairness and diversity

  • With a Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver likely, time to rethink global intellectual property rules

    May 10, 2021

    An op-ed by Ruth L. Okediji: On Wednesday May 5, the US moved to back a Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver that was being debated at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The proposal, first put forward by South Africa and India in October 2020, seeks to temporarily lift certain intellectual property rights that belong to pharmaceutical companies so that other nations can develop generic versions of the drugs. As awareness of vaccine inequality has grown, patents and other types of intellectual property have become central to how the world emerges from the pandemic. Ironically, the patent system was supposed to improve public welfare. Here's how the rationale goes: in return for disclosing her invention -- i.e. by seeking a patent -- an inventor would be able to, among other things, exclusively make, use, and sell that patented product for 20 years. This would -- as the US Constitution puts it -- "promote the progress of science and the useful arts" by incentivizing the creation and dissemination of lifesaving products. In practice however, the global patent system has enabled the creation of drugs that pharmaceutical companies can sell at high prices, to the patients who can afford them and largely for diseases prevalent in wealthy countries. Pharmaceutical companies argue that these high prices are necessary to recoup substantial research and development (R+D) expenditures, but patent rules also prevent poor countries from producing medicines locally to meet domestic needs.

  • Rep. Andy Kim and ATF police officers

    For Prof. Ruth Okediji, ‘grievous’ Capitol insurrection holds hopeful lessons

    January 19, 2021

    Harvard Law Professor Ruth Okediji believes recent events can reinvigorate American democracy and serve as a lesson for the world.

  • Illustration of an open laptop with images of four people, on a desk with a lamp, plant, cup of coffee. Laptop is connected to a cloud and work related images.

    COVID adaptation

    August 26, 2020

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, affecting every aspect of human society, Harvard Law School finds itself at a pivotal moment in legal education. From the crisis, and the challenges and opportunities of remote learning, it is wresting pedagogical innovations that are transforming what it means to get a legal education.

  • Lawyering In Crisis: African Countries Among Innovation Leaders Against COVID-19

    June 5, 2020

    African innovators have shown creativity and ingenuity in finding solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but face legal barriers to safeguarding their intellectual property. There have been 192 innovations directed at COVID-19 from Nigeria alone, as well as more than 90 from South Africa, it was revealed during a webinar hosted by Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, and digital platform “One of the things COVID-19 has done is to underscore the importance of innovation in societies that have been viewed as lacking the intellectual capacity to deploy innovation,” said Professor Ruth L. Okediji of Harvard Law School. “Many innovations in Africa lack the protection necessary to make business models scalable and meaningful.” The webinar brought together top legal minds to discuss Law and crisis management: Working with lawyers in business, government and society to manage the challenges of COVID-19...David Wilkins, Faculty Director at the Center on the Legal Profession, started off with a brief presentation on the role of lawyers in society, reminding participants that one of the continent’s greatest freedom fighters, Nelson Mandela, had been a lawyer. “We tend to think of lawyers as technical appliers of the law…Lawyers must also be counsellors to help clients make decisions that are not only legal but also right…Lawyers must also be leaders who play a critical role in leading key organizations,” Wilkins said.

  • Ruth Okediji

    Last Lecture: Ruth Okediji encourages the graduating class to cultivate the courage to try something new

    May 20, 2020

    In her Last Lecture, Ruth Okediji encouraged the graduating class to cultivate the courage to try something new.

  • Dehlia Umunna, Daphna Renan, Ruth Okediji, Naz Modirzadeh

    Harvard Law School Last Lecture Series 2020

    May 20, 2020

    The 2020 Last Lecture Series is an HLS tradition where selected faculty members impart insight, advice, and final words of wisdom to the graduating class. Speakers this year included Dehlia Umunna, Daphna Renan, Ruth Okediji, and Naz Modirzadeh.

  • Re-Thinking Copyright At Right The Right

    December 6, 2019

    Imagine you have before you a blank sheet of paper. All existing copyright legislation, the whole history of property laws relating to creative works, has been completely erased. It’s up to you to rewrite it from scratch. Where would you start?...As Harvard law scholar Ruth Okediji put it in her brilliant keynote lecture on the festival’s Friday afternoon, “in important material respects, copyright law has written out creators.” Musicians, she claimed, were far more likely to find themselves the victims of copyright law than its beneficiaries – especially musicians from indigenous communities, or from the global south, or from impoverished communities in the global north. This is at least partly due to what Okediji called copyright’s “literary bias”. Copyright law was initially created to deal with written works and only somewhat uneasily transposed to the realm of music. Since then, the question of what is copyrightable in a work of music has tended to repeat this literary bias by favouring those elements that can easily be represented in writing – that is, for the most part, the melody and the harmony. The dots on the stave. But this is a prejudice catastrophically unfit for purpose when dealing with pop music. It has, in Okediji’s words, “created a hierarchy within creative circles” and “systematically underserved the vast majority of world cultures.”

  • Innovation, Justice, and Globalization–A Celebration of J.H. Reichman

    Innovation, Justice and Globalization

    October 17, 2019

    The “Innovation, Justice and Globalization” conference, hosted by HLS professor and leading intellectual property scholar Ruth Okediji, brought international academics and policymakers to campus to discuss intellectual property issues.

  • illustration of people

    In Their Own Words

    January 29, 2019

    From algorithmic price discrimination to intellectual property and human rights to Indian Nations and the Constitution

  • Harvard Portrait: Ruth Okediji

    December 21, 2018

    Ruth Okediji, Smith professor of law, traces her enthusiasm for intellectual-property law to a childhood love of literature and storytelling. When she was seven, her family immigrated to New York City from Nigeria. “I had never heard the word ‘race’ and had never been described as a black person,” she recalls. “I just kept feeling this hostility in the private school that my parents sent me to. When I couldn’t make sense of it, I started going to the New York Public Library. The books raised me.”

  • 20 years of the Laws of Cyberspace 1

    20 years of the Laws of Cyberspace

    May 16, 2018

    It’s been two decades since Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig published ‘The Laws of Cyberspace;’ recently, an event at the Berkman Klein Center celebrated how that groundbreaking paper provided structure to the Center's field of study.

  • Human Rights in a Time of Populism (video)

    Human Rights in a Time of Populism (video)

    May 9, 2018

    The global impact of populist movements was the topic of “Human Rights in a Time of Populism,” a two-day symposium held at Harvard Law School, where participants examined the challenges that current developments characterized as populist pose to the goals of the international human rights system.

  • Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould

    Harvard Law celebrates ‘Women Inspiring Change’

    March 8, 2018

    To commemorate International Women's Day, the Harvard Women's Law Association hosted the  "Women Inspiring Change" portrait exhibit, which features portraits of inspiring women working in the fields of law and policy. Honorees were chosen by the International Women's Day Exhibit Committee from nominations by HLS students, staff and faculty. The exhibit, held annually at HLS since 2014, will be on display this year through March 9.

  • Mark Wu, Ruth Okediji and panelists

    HLS hosts conference on law and development

    August 10, 2017

    Legal scholars from across the globe gathered at HLS in July for a two-day conference on law and development, the latest iteration of a series of conferences held periodically by a loose consortium of schools including Harvard Law School, the University of Geneva, Renmin University of China, and the University of Sydney, Australia.

  • Berkman Klein 2017-2018 community

    Berkman Klein Center announces 2017–2018 community

    July 13, 2017

    The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today announced the incoming and returning fellows, faculty associates, affiliates, and directors who together will form the core of the Center’s networked community in the 2017-2018 academic year.