Music Cases Provide Rich Soundtrack for American Law

A law alumnus recently created The Discography Legal Encyclopedia of Popular Music, a database supported by the law school’s Center for Empirical Research in the Law. (©iStockphoto)

Do black leather pants qualify as a tax deduction for rock stars?

Fans, musicians, journalists and researchers can see how the courts dealt with this question and nearly any other legal issue involving the music industry at The Discography Legal Encyclopedia of Popular Music, accessible through ­

Loren Wells, JD ’10, created the site, which is supported by the school’s Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL).

The site’s database covers 2,400 court opinions spanning nearly 200 years of the music industry.

The opinions, ranging from copyrights and contracts, to taxes, torts and more, are fully summarized and searchable by a number of variables such as artist, location, time-frame, issue and more.

CERL provides the technical platform to deliver Wells’ database to anyone who would like to access it.

“The value of the database is ­immense,” says Andrew D. Martin, PhD, CERL director, professor of law, and professor and chair of the Department of Political Science in Arts & Sciences. “Through the lens of music cases, we’re able to understand a great deal of American law.”

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