IP Intensive: A semester at the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (“SOCAN”)

When I first learned about IP Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program (“IP Intensive”), it was my first week of law school. The pamphlet I picked up from the clubs fair highlighted IP Osgoode’s partnership with SOCAN. I was immediately interested. As a songwriter, I was familiar with SOCAN and the important work and advocacy it does for songwriters, authors and music publishers in Canada. That same week I emailed IP Osgoode to schedule a meeting to discuss how I could be placed at SOCAN in my third year. Now, just over two years later, I am privileged and honoured to have worked at SOCAN this past semester.

SOCAN is a copyright collective society. It administers (i.e. licenses) the public performance rights and reproduction rights in musical works on behalf of its membership. It works with businesses of all types throughout Canada to ensure they are licensed to play music in their establishments. This is an important relationship. Businesses benefit by using music to create a culture-rich environment for their customers and SOCAN members benefit by being remunerated when their music is used.

When I first started at SOCAN, I thought I would be working solely on copyright-related matters. Of course, that made up the bulk of my experience, but it involved so much more. I drafted litigation documents and major licensing agreements, reviewed draft reciprocal agreements with collective societies around the world, researched copyright law issues and even provided input on Canadian copyright policies and reform. One highlight moment was a meeting with staff at the Korean Copyright Commission who were visiting Canada to learn about how we collectively administer copyright. It was a great opportunity to hear about copyright law in other jurisdictions.

But my experience did not encompass only copyright and intellectual property law. Because I was placed with SOCAN’s in-house legal team, I worked on many business matters as well. I sat-in on negotiations for various business-related contracts and drafted non-disclosure agreements. I also had the unique and rare opportunity to brush up on my criminal law knowledge while working on a harassment matter.

It was never a dull moment at SOCAN!

Especially considering every week or so, a new SOCAN member would visit to perform his or her music for staff members during lunch. I also cannot forget to mention SOCAN’s very own staff band, who I watched rehearse for their annual Battle of the Bands fundraiser.

But, best of all are the people I worked with on a daily basis for 10-weeks. Thank you, Andrea, Asma, Gilles, Jaimie, Janet, Jody, Judy, Kathy, Laura, Martin and Véronique. Your knowledge, experience, dedication, kindness and hospitality did not go unnoticed.

I highly recommend for future IP Intensive students to seek a placement at SOCAN. For the opportunity to learn a lot about the law in a hands-on environment and for the amazing people who will teach you.


Written by Alessandro Perri.  Alessandro is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.