Dalhousie Law Journal


music, law, copyright, property, Canada, songs, lyrics, case law


Music, as we know, is one of our vital cultural practices. It "has charms to soothe a savage breast" and is "the food of love."' Someone who does not love music is not to be trusted but someone "who has music in his [sic] soul will be most in love with the loveliest." Music and one's attitude towards it tell us a lot about the ethical and moral value of a person. Law, another key part of our culture, has traditionally dealt with music mainly as something which might fall within the domain of copyright or some related field of property. More recently, however, legal discourse in Canada has taken a much broader approach to the connections between music and law. Increasingly, articles and books by legal scholars make direct appeals to popular music, appropriating lyrics for use in titles, as epigrams or in some other form of reference. As Canadian legal scholarship changes in the '90s and continues to expand its focus on the interdisciplinary and contextual aspects of law, such use of popular music references will no doubt continue and will probably occur with even greater frequency. The invocation of music in legal scholarship is an appeal to its breadth as a carrier of social meaning and to our collective understandings of the messages created by both law and music. With continuing references to music, songs and lyrics in case law, citations to these forms of expression in law reviews and books have begun to constitute another new form of legal knowledge.