Katherine M. Leo


Associate Professor

Millikin University

Katherine M. Leo is associate professor of music at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and author of Forensic Musicology and the Blurred Lines of Federal Copyright History with Lexington in 2021. Dr. Leo holds both a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and a J.D. from its Moritz College of Law. As an interdisciplinary historian, Dr. Leo publishes on matters of authorship and originality as well as analytical methods and evidence in music copyright. In her adjacent work on jazz, Dr. Leo models creative processes as part of wide-reaching musical networks in order to interpret the role of the US legal system as a social institution that influences the music industry. Her most recent publications include a chapter on jazz in the international collected work, Music Borrowing and Copyright Law: A Genre-by-Genre Analysis, with Bloomsbury-Hart in 2023. Dr. Leo’s forthcoming research projects frame the impact of musical style and genre on contemporary litigation, including an article on prior art in the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

As a public-facing scholar, Dr. Leo has served as Secretary of the American Musicological Society-Midwest chapter and presented at annual national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the College Music Society, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Music Theory, as well as international jazz conferences hosted in Austria, England, and Germany. Dr. Leo has participated in recent high-profile music copyright lawsuits as amicus curia and she serves as a contributor to the acclaimed Music Copyright Infringement Resource (MCIR) blog.