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Led Zeppelin to Face Trial Over 'Stairway to Heaven'

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  • Led Zeppelin to Face Trial Over 'Stairway to Heaven'

    Really? Supposedly ripped off a Spirit song.

    http://m.voanews.com/a/mht-led-zeppe...s/3281097.html
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  • #2
    I think they stole the chord progression from a section of George Harrison's "Something" but I don't think George would sue if he were here today.

    In reality, it's much like the "My Sweet Lord" - which Harrison admitted was inspired by The Edwin Hawkins Singers "Oh Happy Day" - and "He's So Fine". One was a big hit and the other one wasn't.

    The minor chord with the chromatically descending bottom note is very common. I doubt if very many people would know about "Taurus" or "He's So Fine" if it wasn't for the later hits.


    As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
    from the deepest hell to the highest states.

    It is up to you which one you choose to explore
    .

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    • #3
      Here's Ian Anderson's take on a similar situation he found himself in.



      "It's not plagiarism it's just the same chord sequence… and it's a very very fine song they wrote."
      As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
      from the deepest hell to the highest states.

      It is up to you which one you choose to explore
      .

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      • #4
        Is this in an American court?
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        • #5
          Jimmy Page is a well known plagairist.

          Though Led Zeppelin often based its music around songs by American bluesmen, the band's song "Dazed & Confused" was actually taken from Jake Holmes, an American folk singer that Jimmy Page's previous band the Yardbirds played with in 1967. Holmes finally sued Page for copyright infringement in 2010.

          One instance of blatant plagiarism that the members of Led Zeppelin were never sued over was Physical Graffiti's epic "In My Time of Dying." The song was credited to all four members of the band, despite the fact that it's a well-known traditional gospel song that has been covered by many people, including Bob Dylan.

          The lyrics of Since I've Been Lovin' You are taken almost word for word from a Moby Grape song called Never.

          There dozens of examples of blues songs they covered and claimed Jimmy Page & Robert Plant as authors. They particularly like stealing from Willie Dixon.

          http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/10/10...s-hall-of-fame

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          • #6
            Originally posted by onelife View Post
            I think they stole the chord progression from a section of George Harrison's "Something" but I don't think George would sue if he were here today.

            In reality, it's much like the "My Sweet Lord" - which Harrison admitted was inspired by The Edwin Hawkins Singers "Oh Happy Day" - and "He's So Fine". One was a big hit and the other one wasn't.

            The minor chord with the chromatically descending bottom note is very common. I doubt if very many people would know about "Taurus" or "He's So Fine" if it wasn't for the later hits.
            He's So Fine was actually a very big hit - a chart topper. I was a huge Beatles fan, and they're more "my era" than He's So Fine, but even as a kid I was certainly aware of the later even before Harrison released All Things Must Pass and My Sweet Lord.

            Oh Happy Day was also quite a big hit - it hit the top five in the USA. The late 60s Edwin Hawkins Singers hit was a rearrangement of a 1800s era hymn. Harrison admitted it was an influence on MSW, but it was in the public domain by then, so that was considered completely fair game. The lawsuit over HSF was another matter, and he lost that one - they called it "unconscious plagiarism."
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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            • onelife
              onelife commented
              Editing a comment
              Alan Klein got involved in that business as well. Harrison eventually bought the entire Bright Tunes catalogue.

              I did not know "He's So Fine" was a big hit. I had never consciously heard the song before the lawsuit and thought it was only a minor hit.

          • #7
            Originally posted by kbeaumont View Post
            Jimmy Page is a well known plagairist.

            Though Led Zeppelin often based its music around songs by American bluesmen, the band's song "Dazed & Confused" was actually taken from Jake Holmes, an American folk singer that Jimmy Page's previous band the Yardbirds played with in 1967. Holmes finally sued Page for copyright infringement in 2010.

            One instance of blatant plagiarism that the members of Led Zeppelin were never sued over was Physical Graffiti's epic "In My Time of Dying." The song was credited to all four members of the band, despite the fact that it's a well-known traditional gospel song that has been covered by many people, including Bob Dylan.

            The lyrics of Since I've Been Lovin' You are taken almost word for word from a Moby Grape song called Never.

            There dozens of examples of blues songs they covered and claimed Jimmy Page & Robert Plant as authors. They particularly like stealing from Willie Dixon.

            http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/10/10...s-hall-of-fame
            How about Black Mountain Side / Down By Blackwaterside?





            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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            • #8
              Wouldn't a statute of limitations apply here since so much time has passed?

              Keeping the Harmony at Harmony Central

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              • #9
                Chord progressions/western harmony are something like arithmetic. People discovered things like multiplying fractions. The "Something" by G.Harrison has a progression that has a tone descending in half-steps. "Stairway" by Zeppelin has the descending half step - BUT over over a minor chord instead of a major. I contend that you canNOT, or at least should not be able to claim invention in these cases.

                I'm thinking that people on a jury, and the lawyers involved, would not know this. Hell, even many musicians wouldn't know or understand this. I contend you can't invent what is a discovery in a harmonic progression. Otherwise, maybe the guy who wrote "Louis Louis" could claim he invented the chord progression because it has a minor V chord. In other words (in the key of A) A major to D major to E minor (although this could probably be found if one could only find it).

                I remember hearing about some software copyright infringement case that was reported on a few years ago. They said the issues involved were too arcane for the average person to understand without expertise. I'd say this is a similar situation. But it appears that someone now can claim he invented some piece of music by choosing to arrange it... with a cowbell and a tambourine. It's the clothes that the arrangers chose to dress the melody and chord progressions in. Not the melody and chords themselves. But as I said in a post sometime ago, music has been dumbed down for the average mass consumer. 4 chords, repeated over and over again can be called an invention, worthy of copyrighting. Someone needs to codify requirements for copyrighting. And I really wish some musicology wonk would comb through Bach and find these progressions. I'm sure they are there. There are many possibilities in chord progressions and voice leading. The descending half step could also be in an inner voice. But still not an invention - a discovery inherent in the possibilities western harmony presents.

                Maybe one should be required to create a melody with a certain number of notes with a specific rhythm pattern - to be copyrightable. Not just convince a clueless jury of infringement.
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                • onelife
                  onelife commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "Something" has the descending chromatic line over Am in the second part of the verse. It even goes all the way down to F (like Stairway) to get back to the guitar riff.

                  You can play the intro to "Stairway" over the part where George sings "don't want to leave her now... "

              • #10
                Most of these disputes get settled out of court. When in court, if it's a copyright issue, then something has to be actually copied. If George Harrison could have proven that he never heard, never "had access" to He's So Fine, then he could not have copied it, even if his independent creation was exactly like someone else's tune.

                And I think the issue here also revolves around someone being actually harmed economically by the borrowing/stealing. So courts often try to use an "average listener" criteria to determine if the two songs at issue are "alike" in their perception. So it's not a close musical analysis - it's an average person's impression, a recognition issue. Someone may try to make a reasoned, musical analysis part of their case, but I'm not sure that carries much weight with judges and juries. Not because the judges/juries are ignorant, but because they are trying to assess the average listener's recognition of the similarities involved, and degree of similarity. It's obviously in lots of cases going to be a judgement call that can go either way.

                The courts are trying to use a common sense approach much of the time it seems to me. Paul Simon's American Tune is obviously a very near copy of the old hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded. Anyone can hear the similarity. If the old hymn had not been in the public domain, Simon would have been easily sued. But when the similarity is partial or fleeting - who knows what a judge or jury will decide? Better to settle out of court than gamble on that.


                nat whilk ii



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                • davd_indigo
                  davd_indigo commented
                  Editing a comment
                  If what you say about - it's an average person's impression, a recognition issue - is what the legal system (by no means a justice system) is what's going on, I'd say the legal system needs to be redesigned. I know this will never happen, but maybe Google (yes, the technology behemoth) should redesign our legal system. There's way too much opinion involved in our legal system. While these opinions are being considered, massive legal incomes are being generated. - Common sense - is a ridiculous premise IMO. Copyright infringement should have measurable criteria. I feel like I'm in the minority here.
                  Last edited by davd_indigo; 04-13-2016, 02:02 PM.

              • #11
                Seems the Justice system is a concession to ' you can't trust a human' What a concept; two hordes of untrustworthy humans in civil warfare may the winner be the winner. You have a game of lies, lyes, lyed truth, true lies - I ain't no lawyarr I know I missed a bunch.
                Taurus (the Bull - I presume) vs Aleistairway to Heaven. So maybe they just settle. A sordid alliance but nunnuh my business. Or, and this is the part I have a problem with, it goes in front of a jury. Yep members of that lying species - who are asked to at best, guess - or worse, do as contracted. Either way throwing THEIR souls onto the scales satisfying a requirement unknown to me.

                I like the Zeppelin tune better.
                Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







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                • AlenK
                  AlenK commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Say what???

              • #12
                Trials are all about money and firepower not justice.
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                • #13
                  "It's as much yours as it is ours"


                  It's actually kind of sad to watch this video. Not Jimmy's best performance.
                  As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                  from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                  It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                  .

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Aspirin doesn't work. What codec are they using?
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                    • #15
                      I have the perfect solution: the suit is settled under the condition that "Stairway to Heaven" is never played in a Guitar Center store.

                      As to ripping people off, I think it's terrible the way all those black blues guys ripped off the Rolling Stones. Shameful.

                      Anyway, it's interesting that "When the Levee Breaks" is public domain so they can't be accused of stealing anything. But if you listen to the original, there's no question Led Zeppelin made it their own.

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