The Blue Book and Commercial Recording Citations

Not too long ago, we directed your attention to a federal case in which a Kris Kristofferson song was at issue. We lamented the fact that the court in question did not see fit to cite the song at issue as per the dictates of Blue Book rule 18.6.1, entitled “Commercial Recordings.” Here’s that rule:

Cite Commercial Recordings by artist and title, providing the name of the recording company and the date of release (if available):

* Cowboy Mouth, Are You With Me? (MCA Records 1996).

* The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol Records 1990) (1967).

If a particular song or musical work is referred to, cited by analogy to shorter words in a collection according to rule 15.5.1:

* Don Henley, The Boys of Summer, On Building the Perfect Beast (Geffen Records 1984).

Well, that is from the 18th edition of the Blue Book, which is the one we had handy. The fact that the most recent cited example of an audio recording is from 1996 struck us funny, although we are certainly fans of Cowboy Mouth, a New Orleans rock band made famous for its rock anthem “Jenny Says.” But Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Building the Perfect Beast? We’re huge Beatles fans, but come on, surely the authors of the Blue Book – comprised of the editors of the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Review, can cite some more recent records and songs than those? First, the quibble with the Beatles citation. Why cite to a later pressing from 1990 when one can and should simply cite to the original 1967 recording? Further, wouldn’t it have been better to cite Rubber Soul or Revolver?

Next, Don Henley? Sure, we love “The Boys of Summer,” with its classic reference to aging hippies with their “Deadhead stickers on Cadillacs,” but how many law students using the Blue Book will recognize Henley and this classic from 1984? At this point, most law students were born after 1984, anyway. Surely we could throw some Radiohead in there?

So, come on, editors, let’s throw in some updated references! (Full disclosure: We’re still using the 18th edition, so let us know if they’ve already updated these issues in the 19th.).

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