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The Discography strives to be entertaining, of course, but the data itself is robust. Finding the cases you're looking for might require specifying artists, labels, and eras alongside legal theories, jurisdictions, and procedures. Don't worry. The fine folks at the Center for Empirical Research in the Law coded our data not only for ease of use, but so visitors can run meaningful searches and get precisely what they came for. Learning to use the Search page effectively may be well worth your time. If you have a moment and really want to master this site, read the instructions below.

Table of Contents
Click a header to jump to one of the three sections
I. General Information
Levels of Searching
Expanding the Headings and Sub-Categories.
Searching Large and Small.
Alphabetical Organization.
Disjunctive Searching Within Each Search Function.
Conjunctive Searching Between Search Functions.
Combining Searches.
Practice Makes Perfect.

II. Discography Entries
Highest Court.
Year Ended.
Short Description.
Legal Issues.
Related Searches.

III. Search Functions
Text Search.
Artist/Party Rolodex.
Time Period.
Case Character.


I. General Information
Before looking at the specific instructions below, a few general words might be helpful.
  • Levels of Searching. To follow the instructions on this page, you will need to know how the search is organized. Searching uses various "Search Functions," described below, which can be combined to narrow search results accordingly. Many Search Functions use a "tree structure" with expandable and retractable sections, allowing users to determine the level of specificity searched. The definitions below provide context for the general instructions that follow.
    1. "Search Functions" refers to the top-level searching distinctions, characterized by headings along the left side of the searching pane. Look where it says "Text Search," "Case Character," "Court," etc. These distinguish individual Search Functions.
    2. "Function Headings" refers to the options presented within each Search Function, often displayed in a tree structure. For example, within the "Artist/Party Rolodex" Function, Function Headings differentiate between "Artists, Producers, Managers & Related Individuals" and "Media, News, Film & Artistic Parties."
    3. "Sub-Categories" refers to the levels of specificity beyond "Function Headings" (still within the tree structure). For example, the Function Heading "Media, News, Film & Artistic Parties" expands to include Sub-Categories like "Scriptwriters" or "Book Publishers."
    4. "Individual Items" refers to the narrowest option in the tree, the individual entries listed under Sub-Categories, which includes individual artists, specific courts/jurisdictions, and fully-narrowed legal issues.
    5. EXERCISE: Look at the "Court" Search Function. There are two Function Headings, one reading "Federal" and the other "State." Under "Federal," there are four Sub-Categories, for the "Supreme Court," "Circuit Courts," "District Courts," and "Federal Agencies." Under the "Circuit Courts" Sub-Category, there are Individual Items for each federal Circuit. This example is illustrative.


  • Expanding the Headings and Sub-Categories. Most Search Functions have several levels of specificity (i.e. multiple Function Headings, each with Sub-Categories, each with Individual Items). Clicking on Function Headings and Sub-Categories will expand their contents. This is helpful for narrowing your searches to specific topics, people, places, etc.
  • Searching Large and Small. Many Function Headings and Sub-Categories are selectable. This means you need not always choose specific Individual Items. You may search at higher levels in the tree. For example, if you want to know about Federal District Court cases only, but don't care which one, you can expand the Function Heading "Federal" in the "Court" Search Function, and click the box next to "District Court." This selects every Individual Item within. Clicking the District Court Sub-Category expands to show the individual courts (Individual Items), which are clickable. But selecting the Sub-Category itself automatically selects all the Individual Items within.
  • Alphabetical Organization. Everything in the search menu is organized alphabetically, so always keep that in mind when drop-downs appear. Though we're hoping to correct it, some odd characters (like umlats) may affect some artists' alphabetical placement.
  • Disjunctive Searching Within Each Search Function. Selecting multiple Sub-Categories or Individual Items within a Search Function (like "M.D. Tennessee" and "E.D. Wisconsin" within "District Court") searches selected items with the disjunctive "OR," not the conjunctive "AND." For example, in the "Case Character" Search Function, marking the specific boxes for both "Contracts-Breach-Repudiation" and "Contracts-Breach-Exclusivity & Restrictive/Negative Covenants" searches for any case with either Individual Item, not only cases with both.
  • Conjunctive Searching Between Search Functions. Selecting multiple Headings, Sub-Categories, or Individual Items within different Search Functions at the same time combines each inter-Function selection with the conjunctive "AND," not the disjunctive "OR." That means marking boxes for both "Aaliyah" (which is in the Artist/Party Function) and "Torts-Negligence-Wrongful Death" (which is in the Case Character Function) searches only cases with both.
  • Combining Searches. Because intra-Function selections are disjunctive, but inter-Function selections are conjunctive, it is possible to run a variety of increasingly complex combined searches. Lawsuits involving a specific person in a specific city at a specific time covering specific issues can be accessed by modifying each Search Function and combining them in various ways. For example, if you want federal trademark lawsuits over the MC5's band name, brought by singer Rob Tyner's family, around the year 2005, in Detroit's federal courts, you can run the following search:

    Text Search Type "Tyner"
    Artist/Party Rolodex  
    Function Heading: Artists, Producers, Managers & Related Individuals
    Sub-Category: Artists, Band Members, and Musical Groups
    Individual Item: MC5 (under "M" in the Rolodex)
    Time Period Change the dates to read "2003-2006"
    Function Heading: Federal
    Sub-Category: District Court
    Individual Item: E.D. Mich.
    Location Select "Michigan" (not necessary here, because the District Court was selected above)
    Case Character  
    Function Heading: Trademarks & Unfair Competition
    Sub-Category: Federal (Lanham Act)
    Individual Item: Trademark Infringment
    This search will return one result: Battle Among MC5 Families. This is a very specific search, and such detail is unlikely to bring many results, but is being used as an illustration.
  • Practice Makes Perfect. As with many things, searching The Discography may not be completely clear immediately. The best way to learn, in addition to perusing this page, is by practicing and running multiple searches, beginning simply and growing more complex.
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II. Discography Entries
After you've run a search, you will see a list of entries, each of which says "view more detail" at the bottom. Clicking those links takes you to an entry's detailed page. Each entry in The Discography follows one lawsuit as it makes its way through different levels of our justice system. Multiple opinions might exist for a single lawsuit when it is appealed, reconsidered, remanded, etc. All opinions are listed, summarized, and categorized within one entry. Specifics are outlined below.


  • Highest Court. The "Highest Court" tells you how high the case traveled. If a case started in the Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania, but reached the U.S. Supreme Court, this will list the Supreme Court. This data is relevant for researchers concerned about precedent. Unless you limit your searches to only Highest Courts reached (as described below), searches will look through all the court opinions associated with each entry.
  • Year Ended. Many entries in The Discography cover cases that lasted several (or many) years. This data-point tells you when the final lawsuit was decided, but does not limit searching capabilities. When running searches by year (discussed below), decision dates of individual opinions (all of which are summarized together in each entry) will be searched.
  • Plaintiffs. This is pretty obvious. These are the parties who originally brought suit. Though many Defendants respond to lawsuits by bringing causes of actions against Plaintiffs (making them Defendants too), The Discography categorizes according to the original suit. (To understand the difference between "Generic" and "Specific" parties, see below)
  • Defendants. This is also pretty obvious. However, in addition to original Defendants, third-party Defendants (other than the Plaintiffs) are included here. That means if a Defendant brings claims against a third party, both are considered Defendants.
  • Other. Disagreements sometimes arise from someone's actions but do not directly involve that person. For example, when artists cancel concerts, lawsuits may arise among concert organizers, though the artist previously settled with both parties. Other times, music companies may sue each other over an artist's output, but the artist is not party to the suit. In these cases, the parties relevant to but not involved in the suit are included in the "Other" category. Reading case summaries will help understand why parties are listed here, and explain their connection to the facts of the case.
  • Short Description. The short description summarizes all court opinions and trial orders associated with each entry. Many entries contain multiple court opinions because lawsuits can extend over many years and involve multiple decisions. The Discography condenses these lawsuits into short, one-paragraph descriptions that accurately trace the history of the case. This means some extra levels of specificity, certain jurisprudential concerns, and other details may be glossed over or left out, in the interest of space, relevance, entertainment, and congruency. These are not intended to be all-encompassing legal determinations, but informational blurbs about the lawsuits covered by each entry.


  • Legal Issues. One of the greatest values The Discography offers the industry is its legal categorization system, which is always under review for improvement (if you have ideas, let us know). These are described in the "Case Character" section below. It is important to understand that legal issues assigned to each Discography entry cover every court opinion associated with that entry. So if you're a researcher also consulting actual court opinions, you will need to skim those to see which opinions discuss which issues.


  • Opinions. Because each entry summarizes multiple opinions (if there are more than one), the sources for the entry are listed near the bottom. These opinions, when read together, tell the story summarized in the text above.
    • Citation. If an official reporter citation exists, it is provided. If not, unofficial reporters are given, if any exist. When cases only exist through online services, their WestLaw identification number is listed, as this is a common service used by academic Discography visitors.
    • Where are the Opinions? Though court opinions are theoretically in the public domain, they are mostly available only though proprietary services, such as WestLaw, LexisNexis, and others. This makes them legally problematic to obtain and display. Though we intend to expand this aspect of the site, for the time being they are mostly out of reach.


  • Related Searches. The "Related Searches" section near the bottom of each entry provides some quick avenues for finding similar entries including the same parties or legal issues, or decided in the same jurisdiction.

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III. Search Functions
Text Search. The "Text Search" is the easiest browsing technique, because it doesn't require field-specific knowledge. Type the desired terms into the space provided; your searches are run according to the following:


  • Disjunctive Searching. Multi-word searches comb the database for ANY of the words written, not ALL (i.e. "OR," not "AND"). If you want to look up cases about Mick Jagger or divorce, you can type, respectively, "Jagger" and "divorce" in the search field, and the results will return any cases with either word. ("AND" functionality is coming soon).
  • Specific Searching. As with any search tool, it is preferable to search for less words, but words with specific meanings (like "Jagger" and "divorce"), because sweeping searches may return unmanageable results.
  • Combining Searches. Because searches combining multiple Search Functions connects the inter-Function selections with "AND," the Text Search can be very valuable for narrowing otherwise overwhelming search results. For example, under the "Case Character" Search Function, selecting "Copyrights-Infringement-Copying & Distribution/Dissemination" returns 170 results. By adding the word "lyric" to the Text Search Function, then running the same search, the results include only entries discussing copying and distributing others' copyrights that also mention the word "lyric" (16 entries found). This is likely to include copyright infringement lawsuits regarding the copying of lyrics, and limited the results to a fraction their original size.
  • SUGGESTED SEARCHES: To get the hang of text searching start off with some fun searches. Search these words and see what comes back: lyrics, raisin, doll, drummer, leather, cannibalism.
Artist/Party Rolodex. If you're not entirely sure what to look for, try using the "Artist/Party Rolodex."


  • Organization. The Artist/Party Function Headings and Sub-Categories are organized according to parties' roles in the business. For example, under the "Artists, Producers, Managers & Related Individuals" Function Heading you'll find many Sub-Categories including artists and producers (obviously), but also "Music and Entertainment Executives" (like Ahmet Ertegun, Suge Knight, and more).
  • Artist/Party Headings and Sub-Categories. To organize this section succinctly, parties had to be assigned specific industry roles (though many were assigned more than one, as explained below). If you're having trouble finding specific types of parties, just think which of the general subjects they'd fall under, then go from there. For example, the New York Times, which is in the "Newspaper/Magazine Publisher" Sub-Category, is listed under "Media, News, Film & Artistic Parties" Function Heading. It may take time to learn how to use this properly.
  • Alphabetical Rolodex. An alphabetical "rolodex" will drop down when you expand sub-categories with unmanageable numbers of results (like "Artists, Band Members, and Musical Groups," which has over 1,000). Click the individual letters to expand them and see the entries in alphabetical order.
  • Parties In Multiple Categories. Some parties show up in multiple sub-categories because they play multiple roles. For example, 50 Cent is an artist, songwriter, producer, and record label executive, and so his name will appear as an Individual Item under each of the Sub-Categories for artists, songwriters, producers, and executives.
  • "Generic" and "Specific" Parties. A lot of cases involve people who aren't commonly known and who don't appear more than once in The Discography. Because including every personal name would be overburdening, only parties who were easily found through simple online searches were given their own entry. Other times, generic terms, like "Music Publisher(s)" or "Medical Professional(s)" were used. Whenever you see generic terms, it means there were parties in the lawsuit not given their own identity, but were folded into a generic category for other similar parties.
  • Disjunctive Searching. Remember that selecting multiple parties in the Artist/Party Rolodex will search for ANY but not ALL the parties selected. That means as you include more artists, your search gets more expansive, not more specific.
  • Combining Searches. Because inter-Function searches are combined by "AND" while intra-Function items are combined with "OR," creative searching is possible. For example, searching for Aaliyah, AC/DC, and ABBA will return six results, all the Discography entries involving those artists. However, adding a Text Search for "airplane" will narrow the results to just one, a lawsuit brought by Aaliyah's record label after she died when her plane crashed.
  • SUGGESTED SEARCHES: Because the Artist/Party Rolodex has a complex structure, it's a good idea to try finding a few parties for practice. There is one "Professional Chef" in The Discography. He's in the Sub-Category "Food Manufacturer." See if you can find him (you have to pick the Function Heading). Now, try finding Oscar Hammerstein (the first), who ran a theater in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in New York. (Hint: he's not an "artist")
Time Period. Obviously, laws change over the years. This Search Function allows you to search court opinions decided during specific periods. Keep in mind, this Search Function narrows the dates of court decisions, and is not related to lives of artists. If you're looking for cases about Jimi Hendrix, don't narrow the time period to the year of Jimi's death (1970). Most lawsuits involving Jimi's rights and interests occurred after his death, and limiting the time period to 1970 will exclude those cases.


Court. Laws around the country may vary in different courts, depending on statutes, common law, and precedent. For anyone needing to search specific jurisdictions, this section makes it possible.


  • Courts and Levels. The U.S. justice system is basically two justice systems side-by-side (with obvious overlap). There are Federal and State courts, which comprise the two Function Headings in this Search Function. Sub-Categories further narrow the results to the levels of courts within each Function Heading, such as lower state courts, federal appellate courts, and courts of last resort. Depending whether you select Function Headings, Sub-Categories, or Individual Items, you can adjust expansiveness. For example, you can select all federal cases, only federal district courts, or maybe just the District of Rhode Island, if you want. Or you can search all state cases, only the courts of last resort, or perhaps just the Supreme Court of Hawaii, if it's appropriate.
  • Alphabetical by State. Courts are listed in alphabetical order by state, not necessarily according to how the court's name appears in court opinions (most courts do not begin with their state's name, but the level of court). Keep that in mind when looking at drop-down menus for state courts. For example, Illinois' appellate court is not listed as "Illinois Appellate Court" but as "Appellate Court of Illinois." Regardless, the Individual Items are alphabetized by state, so it follows "Court of Appeals of Idaho" and precedes "Court of Appeals of Indiana."
  • Limiting to Highest Court Traveled. Though most lawsuits are settled before trial, some undergo long, arduous trials requiring multiple court rulings, reconsiderations, and various appeals. When a lawsuit in this database has traveled through multiple levels of the justice system, the Highest Court it reached was noted. So if you're looking for cases that reached the "New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division" but not New York's court of last resort, you can select the box that says "Limit above court selections to the highest court a case travelled," then select the court under the "State" Function Heading and "Intermediate" Sub-Category, and your search results will include only entries in which N.Y.'s intermediate court was the highest court reached.
  • Disjunctive Searching. As with other searching functions, selecting multiple jurisdictions will return results with ANY of the courts selected, not ALL, so selecting "S.D. New York" and "Court of Chancery of New Jersey" will bring back any cases in either jurisdiction.
  • Combined Searching. The value of this section is truly apparent in combined searches. Because case opinions treat laws differently depending whether they're state or federal causes of action tried in state or federal courts, limiting searches appropriately can be helpful. For example, looking at how New York state courts differ from N.Y. federal courts discussing trademarks is easy. Select "State" as a Function Heading, choose "New York" from the "Location" Search Function (discussed below), then select the "Trademarks & Unfair Competition" Function Heading under the "Case Character" Function. This will return 14 results, all N.Y. state courts discussing trademarks. Then do the same for the "Federal" Function Heading and you'll get 102 results.

Location. The "Location" Search Function is very self-explanatory. The drop-down contains all fifty states and any territories that appear in The Discography. Without specifying further, choosing "California," for example, will bring back all cases decided in California, whether federal or state. Thus the "Location" Search Function is largely helpful in combination with others. For example, if you'd like to see how Illinois and Pennsylvania differ regarding certain causes of action, you could run two searches and compare the results. First, select Illinois in the "Location" Search Function, then choose the "Case Character" you're looking for, and run your search. Then do the same for Pennsylvania.


Case Character. This Search Function allows you to search only those entries relating to specific areas of the law. For people with legal know-how, this may be the most helpful Search Function. For others it may be confusing. The descriptions to follow should help everyone.


  • Organization. Different general legal topics comprise the Function Headings of the "Case Character" Search Function. The Function Headings cover expansive areas of jurisprudence, (One of them, "General," includes issues affecting multiple legal topics like Affirmative Defenses, Equitable Remedies, etc.). On the most basic level, the organization should be easy to decipher. Going from Function Headings to Sub-Categories increases specificity. For example, under the Function Heading "Constitutional Law," you may select the Sub-Category "First Amendment," which will present numerous Individual Items, including "Fair Use, Parody & Artistic Protection" and "Lyrics as Evidence."
  • Legal Issues Covered. Most lawsuits, particularly those that last years and require multiple court opinions, discuss substantive and procedural issues, as well as issues not easily categorized as either. When deciding which issues to track, a certain level of arbitrariness was necessary, but the general rule was: only substantive issues and procedural issues with substantive considerations were included. Things like trial bifurcation, judge recusal, sanctions, and jury formalities were left out, while interlocutory orders and third-party claims were included. Further, while certain equitable actions and remedies were included, standard damage calculations were not distinguished. That means you can look for cases that sought constructive trusts or an accounting, but cannot distinguish between punitive and consequential damage. (It should be noted, that this functionality will likely be increased in the future.) However, running text searches may uncover the added specificity, because case summaries should discuss damages and other issues not specified in the "Case Character."
  • Characterizations. Once again, a certain amount of arbitrariness was necessary, particularly with Sub-Categories and Individual Items. Deciding how to categorize 2,400 opinions was not easy and resulted in about 500 different individual categories. As you seek increased levels of specificity, you may simply need to experiment with the "Case Character" Search Function and build a mental map of where causes of action are placed.
  • Multiple Issues. Because many suits involve multiple issues, some cases may have up to twenty legal issues associated with them. Most have between trhee and five, but some will, obviously, have more. Using this Search Function searches all issues assigned to each entry.
  • Disjunctive Searching. As with every other Search Function, selecting multiple Sub-Categories or Individual Items will search The Discography for ANY of the items selected, not ALL. That means if you search both "Contracts-Breach-Good Faith & Fair Dealing" and "Civil Procedure-Interlocutory Orders-Preliminary Injunction," results will include all cases that had either of those issues. Combined search (discussed next) should be helpful.
  • Combined Searching. Combining different Search Functions has been a focus of the sections above, and is relevant here as well. Obviously, you can use any Search Function discussed above and narrow your results to specific legal issues by specifying the "Case Character" here. This can help avoid issues presented by the Disjunctive Searching within this Search Function. For example, searching for "Contract-Breach-Exclusivity and Restrictive/Negative Covenants" returns 44 results, all dealing with exclusivity provisions in contracts. If you wanted to know which cases also discussed preliminary injunctions, you can't also select "Civil Procedure-Interlocutory Orders-Preliminary Injunction," because that would search for EITHER, and will return 155 results. However, searching for exclusivity provisions and simultaneously running a text search for "injunct," for example, properly narrows the search to six results.

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