SOCAN brings external counsel in-house

After 23 years as it’s external counsel Gilles Daigle has joined the Society of Composers Authors & Music Publishers of Canada as general counsel and head of legal services.

Daigle, considered one of the foremost experts on copyright law, is no stranger to SOCAN having helped the society to protect and fight for the rights of Canada’s music creators and publishers as the society’s external legal counsel while at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. During that time he has represented SOCAN in numerous legal proceedings before the Copyright Board of Canada and the courts.

Daigle succeeds Paul Spurgeon, who retired after 35 years as SOCAN’s general counsel.

“It’s a very interesting role and I have huge shoes to fill,” says Daigle.

“Gilles Daigle joining SOCAN is a major plus for Canadian songwriters and music publishers,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste in a statement. “He will be a key player in SOCAN’s plans to be a global trailblazer on behalf of our rights-owners in the increasingly digital, mobile, borderless and innovative world of music consumption.”

The high profile copyright legal challenges facing SOCAN include decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada rendered last year.

Daigle says several sections of the new Copyright Modernization Act, which came into force last November, also pose challenges for the music industry.

“Now what we have is the advent of a new right of making works available in the Copyright Act and there is already a legal discussion taking place before the Copyright Board to see what impact if any that new provision serves to change the conclusions of the Supreme Court decision on the issue of downloads,” says Daigle.

He also takes on the job at SOCAN as other significant challenges face the music industry.

The development of new Internet music services that go beyond downloading like iTunes pose other questions for artists regarding compensation. Streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify give rise to legal and business issues as well in terms of what an appropriate level of royalties would be for that type of music use.

“There’s been a lot of talk too about YouTube and the difficulties around the world with it and Google reaching agreements with performing rights societies. In some cases there have been agreements but others have been established but not renewed,” he says.

Daigle will be managing about a dozen people in SOCAN’s legal department, which includes two internal counsel and a support team of paralegals. He is also a frequent speaker at copyright law events and a regular guest lecturer at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law.

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