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  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/06/25/stairway-to-litigation-led-zeppelin-apple-and-the-curse-of-the-copyright-wars/ Theft By Led Zeppelin And Apple? No, Just Innovation Comment Now Following Comments A few years ago, Jethro Tull front-man Ian Anderson acknowledgedthat his band and the Eagles had toured together in the early 1970s, and that it may be no coincidence that the Eagles’ “Hotel California” bore a resemblance to his band’s song “We Used to Know.” Discussing the similarities between his forgotten song and the Eagles’ mega-selling song, Andersen showed great restraint and serenity: "[M]aybe it was just something they kind of picked up on subconsciously, and introduced that chord sequence into their famous song “Hotel California” sometime later. But, you know, it’s not plagiarism … And I feel flattered that they came across that chord sequence. But it’s difficult to find a chord sequence that hasn’t been used, and hasn’t been the focus of lots of pieces of music. It’s harmonic progression is almost a mathematical certainty you’re gonna crop up with the same thing sooner or later if you sit strumming a few chords on a guitar. Contrast that with the recent hubbub surrounding the attempts launched a few weeks ago by the late Randy California’s estate to cash in on a similar situation. More than four decades after the release of Led Zeppelin’s rock anthem, “Stairway to Heaven,” California’s estate seeks money and attention for a certain superficial resemblance of chord progressions between “Stairway” and an earlier song, “Taurus,” by California’s former group Spirit. But is this creative theft? And even if it may constitute theft in some sense of the word, is it something that needs to be redressed? It seems highly doubtful. Such “theft” is the lifeblood of most innovation. And the less time we spend listening to the petitions ofpatent trolls, courtroom cloggers and other opportunists, the better off we’ll be in our cultural, economic and technological development. Apple AAPL -0.19%’s Steve Jobs, one of the best of our generation at taking existing ideas and reworking them into something distinctive and new, in 1996 quipped: “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’–and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” Welcome to the world of Led Zeppelin. And Shakespeare. And many others, for that matter. If William Shakespeare were plying his trade today, his creative output would be slowed, because he’d be trapped in court defending himself against the estates of Saxo Grammaticus, Arthur Brooke, Raphael Holinshed and others, for “stealing” the basis for Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and many other works. Led Zeppelin has been also accused of “stealing” from various old American blues artists. This is a tricky business, because as Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant has often noted, all blues artists took and re-appropriated works from one another. Author Willa Cather once said that there are only three or four human stories, and they go on repeating themselves viciously, as if they’d never happened before. In that spirit, there may be only one or two blues songs, which are endlessly repeated, with key improvisations which become the distinctive signature of each succeeding artist. In short, blues is open source. And so is much of rock and roll and popular culture, as Jethro Tull’s Anderson noted. The moral aspects of intellectual property and intellectual theft—whether in music or technology—can’t be understood outside the context of dollar signs. When millions of dollars aren’t at stake, most reasonable folks are willing to admit that ideas get lifted and refined constantly. But once the price tag gets high enough, everyone becomes a jealous litigator, claiming to have been the first person to copyright fire or the wheel or the touch-pad screen. In a recent CNET interview, Apple exec Phil Schiller tried to reconcile Jobs’ freewheeling notion of creative theft with Apple’s jealous defense of its intellectual property: “I think what he meant by ‘steal’ was you learn, as artists have, from past masters; you figure out what you like about it and what you want to incorporate into your idea, and you take it further and do something new with it. I can see why people might confuse that with the current use people have for that phrase. You don’t just say, ‘I want something that looks just like yours and I’m going to sell it too.’” Yes, one could argue that Google GOOGL -0.62%’s Android is simply a “copy” of the Apple mobile operating system. One could argue that Android became the alternative for people who wanted the iPhone experience with the actual iPhone. Yet Apple has wisely deescalated its patent wars with Google and other competitors. Far better to create new products than defend old ones. Its past litigation has benefited members of the legal profession far more than it’s benefited the company or consumers. But no fans of Zeppelin would have found earlier works by Spirit or Willie Dixon to be appealingly adequate original versions that Zeppelin merely mimicked. Those earlier songs, along with many other songs and genres that the band radically reworked, are of no commercial value in the estimation of the consuming public. I’ve argued since the heyday of Napster that we all need to respect the dance of Shiva, the legendary god of destruction and creative renewal. Certain commercial forces (such as widely distributed recordings) that created great wealth for some artists would inevitably be destroyed through Shiva’s endless dance, as subsequent technologies would make it impossible to protect various artists’ ideas. In one moment this helped Led Zeppelin become rich; in our new moment it has helped hip-hop artists to benefit even more from sampling Led Zeppelin tracks than Led Zeppelin benefited from sampling the blues. So it goes with Shiva. Let Shiva be Shiva, and let innovation happen. Let “Taurus” belong to Spirit, Let “Stairway to Heaven” belong to Zeppelin, let iOS belong to Apple and Android belong to Google, and let all brilliant so-called thieves be liberated to take ideas that exist in the ether and rework them into something new and amazing. It’s what Zeppelin did and what Steve Jobs did. It’s what innovation is all about.
  2. It's not that simple. He was part of the effort to reunite in '86 in the secret sessions in Bath with Tony Thompson, till Thompson's serious car wreck made them all decide that maybe it just wasn't meant to be.
  3. I agree. I used to bellyache about how Plant needed to just stop being snobbish and reunite with JP and JPJ. Later I realized that the Zeppelin mystique has grown over time because Plant won't overexpose the band or maximize the group's commercial value. Compare that to the Who (which I love almost as much as Zeppelin, even though Townshend looks down his nose at his rivals). The Who's mystique has declined sine the "farewell" tour that I attended in 1982, thanks to the constant comeback tours and selling so many of their hits to TV shows and car companies, and their much-ridiculed Super Bowl show and other overexposure. I'm going sign off this board for now. This thread has reminded me that I love Led Zeppelin too much to get stuck in the squabbles among different camps ("Real Zeppelin fans don't like X or Y Zep song" or "Jimmy was better than Robert" or whatever). In a related vein, I love USC college football, but I've become exhausted because our fans bicker online and character-assassinate one another over whether they love or hate the quarterback, whether they want to fire the coach, and so on. Ugh. Or it's like the crazies who get violently angry about whether Google is better than Apple. We people are funny, we'll fight over anything. In any event, I've enjoyed chatting with many of you.
  4. Thank you for making some terrific points, Janvier. It sounds like you've had great experiences as a journalist. And while journalism is a great and exciting and noble profession, it's certainly never been a good fit for someone intent on making lots of money -- especially today, when the Internet has allowed so many more writers to join the conversation for little or no money. Honestly, I think of myself as only marginally a journalist. I don't believe that those of us (like Cookie and me) who are unpaid contributors to Forbes or to the Huffington Post are really beholden to classic journalistic standards of inquiry, reporting and bias-suppression. In the old days, a reporter would call up a blabbermouth like me for a quote. Nowadays, their editor skips the middleman and has me write my opinion for direct distribution to the reader. Some folks here are frustrated with my opinion about Robert Plant or about the Stones, and they've turned it into a manifesto on the decline of journalism. I personally believe it's surprising that at least one of them contributes to places like the Huffington Post, which pioneered the model that they dislike. But I'd love to see some of Cookie's writing, in order to learn from it, and I hope he reaches out to me (my email again is robasghar@gmail.com, for him or others who want to chat more offline). And when I visit the UK this fall, I'd love to buy him a beer and talk in person. I didn't mean to discuss my income as a writer to show off, but to try to put to bed Cookie's irritating suggestions that I was an amateur with little or no potential. Again, your points are well stated and powerful. Thanks, Janvier.
  5. Thanks much for the heads-up, I've alerted them. Do you have a twitter account or website you could share? I suspect I could learn a lot from you. Thanks.
  6. LivingLovingHearbreaker, if he's made fun of your writing, you can needle him about using the term "vast pace" in this thread. You can have a "vast space" or a "fast pace," but you can't have a "vast pace." Cookie, this thread was a tribute to Robert Plant. But you're just dick-measuring now, and yet you seem to be admitting that you're contributing to the journalism problem that you bemoan. Well, if you'd like to discuss it offline, I'd love to hear more about your contributions to journalism and your concerns regarding it, and to offer my own thoughts. Please reach out to me at robasghar@gmail.com. At bare minimum, send me your byline so I can learn something from your own writing style. SuperDave, thanks again for your thoughts.
  7. (Sigh) Cookie, if you yourself do the journalistic thing, you'd google me and see that I have journalistic, academic and scholarly credentials that outweigh those of the typical general-interest columnist in your supposed golden age of journalism. Forbes has greater readership and more revenue than ever with its new staff-and-contributor model, FYI. I also make more money for my writing than 99% of journalists. Most of it is ghostwriting for university presidents and top executives. I appreciate Forbes and the Huffington Post as occasional outlets to do my own writing -- and, yes, to occasionally praise my idols when I see an angle. What's fun for me is to see that article on Robert Plant's website. If you don't agree with it, you don't really need to carry on about the state of journalism.
  8. A fair enough perspective, thank you, ScarletMacaw.
  9. Thanks very much, Super Dave. That's really interesting about Aykroyd. Plant seemed to say, right after he started his solo career, that he was hell bent on not following the model of his idol Elvis -- putting on weight and mailing in some performances in Vegas. He's stayed true to that, even with all the $ and glory that could've come his way. I give Jagger a ton of credit for how well he's able to do his thing, on the verge of turning 70. It's amazing. But it's still closer to the Late Elvis model than to the Plant model. Not everyone has to do it Plant's way, but Plant's way shows a much healthier and balanced ego. The Golden God should get a lot of credit for growing old in such a dignfied way.
  10. Melcore, the link between Plant and leaders and public figures is that all of them, at some level, are driven by a need for attention -- to get girls, to get money, to get fame, and so on. It's common, in the field of management, to see leaders who hang on to long -- again, Joe Paterno is the exemplar. He needed the adulation of Penn State loyalists and he resisted many attempts by the governing board to get him to retire. That ego got out of hand, and most people believe it had a little something to do with an 80-year-old legend just didn't have the energy, courage or judgment to deal with the messy situation that developed there. (But, really, I hope this doesn't become a debate about Penn St, I'm just offering it as an example. Many, many leaders cling to their jobs for the prestige.) As for Plant cashing in on the nostalgia, it's a fair point that he doesn't have to do any of the Zeppelin songs. But you obviously realize that, if he just played all the old hits in the classic way, he could play 20,000 seat arenas; and if he played with JP and JPJ, he could play 100,000 seat stadiums. So how can you call this low-key tour an attempt to "cash in"....?
  11. Thanks, Cookie. I'm not paid by Forbes, I'm just an unpaid contributor who gets to offer career advice and management advice in a conversational way that gradually helps my own writing and consulting brand. I decided to do this piece out of my lifelong love for Zeppelin. You're right, the state of journalism and publishing has changed a lot because people like me are willing to do this stuff for free. But to pass up the chance to tie some of these issues to what one of my heroes is out there doing? Nah....
  12. Thanks, Sagittarius, CLW, PlanetPage and everyone else. I'll admit that, for years, I was bitter about how Plant seemed to think he was too good to reunite with Page and Jones. Only now, as I watch how he handles his Zeppelin legacy with grace and with a forward-looking style, do I realize that he actually added to the Zeppelin legacy by not taking the "milk them for every last dollar" approach that other rock legends did.
  13. Think positive! And thanks for the kind words!
  14. Here's a Forbes.com piece I wrote this morning about Robert Plant, and how he could be a model for most CEOs, celebrities and leaders.....
  15. I very much agree. I used to be ticked at how Plant wouldn't let the group reconvene. Now I respect it, and I get puzzled why he himself keeps letting the door slightly ajar for some kind of reunion with the "Capricorns."
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