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jim6225

Lawsuit over Stairway to Heaven

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Haven't posted here in ages due to some problems in my life but, Zep helps me get though a lot of it and although I know Jimmy's history of "borrowing", this ain't it!

Listen to the beginning of this 1959 Davey Graham version of "Cry Me a River" :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWeejHJxGjs

Now............just drop it and go home Randy...PLEASE!

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Haven't posted here in ages due to some problems in my life but, Zep helps me get though a lot of it and although I know Jimmy's history of "borrowing", this ain't it!

Listen to the beginning of this 1959 Davey Graham version of "Cry Me a River" :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWeejHJxGjs

Now............just drop it and go home Randy...PLEASE!

um... Randy tragically passed away in 1997. The lawsuit is being filed by his estate.

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know Jimmy's history of "borrowing"

One of the big problems with mixing business and the arts (and music is obviously one of the arts) is that throughout human history making copies of a work has been not only accepted, but encouraged. It's only been in the last hundred years or so (as opposed to thousands of years of humans creating works of art) that this has been a problem.

Today's copyright laws have failed to even acknowledge that there are two completely different, and apparently opposing, viewpoints to art: the creative act that generates the work of art versus making money off of the work through copies. The law can say what it wants but artists still work from the same inner space, which is influenced by and yes, even takes from other artists' work. It wasn't all that long ago that incorporating direct inspiration in a work of art was an act of tribute, not theft. It isn't even illegal to create exact copies of works of art -- if it is sold it simply has to be sold as a copy, generally as a licensed copy (otherwise you couldn't buy Led Zeppelin posters and photos, could you?)

This new business/legal development doesn't change the nature of the basic human need to create art. This creative drive is part of human nature - a basic need like the need to socialize and communicate - it is not an optional artifice of modern civilization. As long as copyright law ignores this point, there will be needless legal problems, particularly when there are opportunistic bloodsucker attorneys out there who want to take advantage of the situation.

Edited by lif

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One of the big problems with mixing business and the arts (and music is obviously one of the arts) is that throughout human history making copies of a work has been not only accepted, but encouraged. It's only been in the last hundred years or so (as opposed to thousands of years of humans creating works of art) that this has been a problem.

Today's copyright laws have failed to even acknowledge that there are two completely different, and apparently opposing, viewpoints to art: the creative act that generates the work of art versus making money off of the work through copies. The law can say what it wants but artists still work from the same inner space, which is influenced by and yes, even takes from other artists' work. It wasn't all that long ago that incorporating direct inspiration in a work of art was an act of tribute, not theft. It isn't even illegal to create exact copies of works of art -- if it is sold it simply has to be sold as a copy, generally as a licensed copy (otherwise you couldn't buy Led Zeppelin posters and photos, could you?)

This new business/legal development doesn't change the nature of the basic human need to create art. This creative drive is part of human nature - a basic need like the need to socialize and communicate - it is not an optional artifice of modern civilization. As long as copyright law ignores this point, there will be needless legal problems, particularly when there are opportunistic bloodsucker attorneys out there who want to take advantage of the situation.

Great post

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oh, good - I thought it was just me :)

Its not just you. we can all hear the three notes which sound a bit like Stairway, but to suggest that those three notes represent the theft of a song is ludicrous

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One of the big problems with mixing business and the arts (and music is obviously one of the arts) is that throughout human history making copies of a work has been not only accepted, but encouraged. It's only been in the last hundred years or so (as opposed to thousands of years of humans creating works of art) that this has been a problem.

Today's copyright laws have failed to even acknowledge that there are two completely different, and apparently opposing, viewpoints to art: the creative act that generates the work of art versus making money off of the work through copies. The law can say what it wants but artists still work from the same inner space, which is influenced by and yes, even takes from other artists' work. It wasn't all that long ago that incorporating direct inspiration in a work of art was an act of tribute, not theft. It isn't even illegal to create exact copies of works of art -- if it is sold it simply has to be sold as a copy, generally as a licensed copy (otherwise you couldn't buy Led Zeppelin posters and photos, could you?)

This new business/legal development doesn't change the nature of the basic human need to create art. This creative drive is part of human nature - a basic need like the need to socialize and communicate - it is not an optional artifice of modern civilization. As long as copyright law ignores this point, there will be needless legal problems, particularly when there are opportunistic bloodsucker attorneys out there who want to take advantage of the situation.

Spot on - well said lif.

Terrible that the very narrow prism of copyright law should be brought to bear in this instance, as with many other cases. There are two countervailing things going on: one is business/ownership and the other is the way that so much art develops in an organic way.

It's about the word derivative, which is seen as a negative quality, but is only negative if something is borrowed to no artistic end. Aside from such cases, lots of great art in all genres is derivative. And as you say, the grasping attempt to appropriate and monetise "product" can be a huge brake on artistic development.

I don't think the legal system is capable of bringing much nuance or altered perspective to the simple prism of what the law says.

Judges and juries are pedantically expected to measure a case on the points of law. There are no provisions for questioning the basis and the value of the laws themselves, though the best lawyers can plant a seed of doubt, or introduce an altered perspective, which may not be legally admissible but might just allow a different shaft of light , or common sense, to prevail.

What's interesting on the topic of creative borrowings is the openness in the way which recent music - rap and other genres - have sampled other tracks.

Haven't got a clue what credits ensue from that: presumably it's all such an obvious borrowing that it's uncontestable.

It makes me wonder about the P Diddy/J Page collaboration on Kashmir. He didn't need to take such a public part in the project. But he chose to, perhaps for image reasons or perhaps to reassert his ownership of that song: maybe he just couldn't authorise it, he had to own it.

Ditto, for that matter, Beijing and Whole Lotta Love.

I think the judicial authorities would say I've moved off topic at this point, and move to have the previous point dismissed from the court records.

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Spot on - well said lif.

Terrible that the very narrow prism of copyright law should be brought to bear in this instance, as with many other cases. There are two countervailing things going on: one is business/ownership and the other is the way that so much art develops in an organic way.

It's about the word derivative, which is seen as a negative quality, but is only negative if something is borrowed to no artistic end. Aside from such cases, lots of great art in all genres is derivative. And as you say, the grasping attempt to appropriate and monetise "product" can be a huge brake on artistic development.

Thanks T&B. Landmark cases can change laws. If a law is faulty, it is just plain wrong to merely judge a case on legal points. Look at the laws on racial and sexual equality - they came about because the laws themselves were the problem.

The other thing I'd like to add to your points is that human beings *do not understand* anything new that is not related to something they already know. Our brains are hardwired for pattern recognition, and like with jokes, there is pleasure in perceiving (seeing, hearing, etc) a familiar pattern that is changed in different and even unexpected ways. However, a totally new pattern may not even be recognized as a pattern. That's why "avant garde" art - experimental art that goes way far from what we are familiar with - has such slim chance of becoming popular in its own time, and why music from totally different cultures may not even be understood as music. People have to be educated and gradually accept new patterns into not only their own minds, but into the collective minds of the culture they live within.

All this is a long way of saying that artists who don't borrow from previous art may not even produce a work that is considered art. THAT is the point about the history of art for thousands of years that the law needs to address.

Edited by lif

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They simply cannot fight over this -- it's a stock chord progression that has been in use for centuries.

Spirit will have to sue the Hendrix estate as well for it's use in "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)," and then Graham's estate will sue them all. It's absolutely ludicrous.

I joked recently that, just to **** with these jokers, they should add "Graham" in as a credit to "Stairway." If anyone outside the band deserves it, it's that man.

Edited by Melcórë

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Its not just you. we can all hear the three notes which sound a bit like Stairway, but to suggest that those three notes represent the theft of a song is ludicrous

no, no! I wasn't talking about spirit/stairway here..... I was referring to Dancing Days/Last night :)

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no, no! I wasn't talking about spirit/stairway here..... I was referring to Dancing Days/Last night :)

:slapface::oops::buttsmack::tears:

Edited by juxtiphi

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Apparently the judge blasted Spirit's lawyer. Now look, I am all for giving artist's credit, and Jimmy was a bit of a jerk in 68 for things like "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" and "Dazed and Confused."

Its good Holmes and Baez got credit there. This is a different thing entirely, though. Jimmy surely was influenced by "Taurus", but he changed the riff enough to the point where it is quite different. The rest of the song also could not be more different. You cannot honestly say "Taurus" and "Stairway" are similar in any capacity as songs.

Joan Baez didn't write BIGLY.

Page heard it on an album of hers where she had credited it as Traditional. Page did his arrangement and likewise credited it as Traditional (arr. Page). So if anybody is responsible for the credit problem on BIGLY it is Baez. LZ simply used the only credit they knew for it on the debut which was Traditional. I don't know what else they could have done since Baez had not credited it properly in the first place.

It's interesting how these things get so mixed up even for Zeppelin fans.

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On my copy of Truth, Beck admits to stealing the "Ain't Superstitious" riff from Howlin' Wolf, but justifies it by claiming "but he doesn't mind because I asked him". I'm not sure if I'd call that "doing the right thing".

Besides that, the song

borrows significantly from Willie Dixon's song of the same name (
), yet it's credited to Beck/Stewart. Hmmm.

I agree. Their own songs and reworkings of others' songs are so brilliant, it's a shame that they were not more careful with proper credits. Pay the money to use the songs and reap more (untarnished) glory down the road.

I have original vinyl of Jeff Beck's Truth and he credits people right on the back of the sleeve, so obviously some people were managing or at least trying to do the right thing.

But just because Zep magpied some song ideas doesn't mean they took Taurus.

Jeffrey Rod's (whatever happened to him?) Rock My Plimsoul is pretty much B.B. King's Rock Me Baby. No word on who B.B. nicked it from. :-)

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I can't view the video - likely because I'm in Canada. Is Colbert slamming Zep with what is already old news?

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Is Colbert slamming Zep with what is already old news?

Yes (more or less but mostly "yes"). I posted because I thought it was noteworthy that the show, given its demographics, chose to devote time to it.

Edited by Trem-O-Verb

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Its his usual MO. Start off by sounding like you are going to defend something then turn around and slam it.

Here is a very interesting Comparison of the music in question.

http://www.guitaretab.com/s/spirit/61731.html?no_takeover

Spirit - Taurus tab
Many other versions of Taurus tab are incorrectly posted on the web with the
first 4 bars of Stairway to Heaven tab. These 2 songs, based on a commonly
used A minor descending chromatic walk are vastly different in composition and complexity.
Only an amateur would confuse them for the same song.

(This tab has been corrected by Joe Spadaro)

Intro (4/4 time)

Am Am7 Amm7 Am6 Am D Am G
[ Tab from: http://www.guitaretab.com/s/spirit/61731.html ]
E-----5-------5---|-----5-----5-5---|---5-5-----------|-----------------|
B-----5-----5-5---|---5-5-----5-5---|---5-5-----------|-----------------|
G---5-------5-----|---5-------5-5---|---3-3-----------|-----------------|
D-7-----7-6-----6-|-5-----5-4-----4-|-3-------0-------|------------5-/6-|
A-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
E-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

(Below is Stairway To Heaven intro tab for comparison.)

Stairway To Heaven
Led Zeppelin (1971)

The resolve here is pure genius.

Intro (4/4 time)

Am Am7 Amm7 D F G Am F E

E-------5-7-----7-|-8-----8-2-----2-|-0---------0-----|-----------------|
B-----5-----5-----|---5-------3-----|---1---1-----1---|-0-1-1-----------|
G---5---------5---|-----5-------2---|-----2---------2-|-0-2-2-----------|
D-7-------6-------|-5-------4-------|-3---------------|-----------------|
A-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-2-0-0---0--/8-7-|
E-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
Edited by juxtiphi

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Its his usual MO. Start off by sounding like you are going to defend something then turn around and slam it.

Here is a very interesting Comparison of the music in question.

http://www.guitaretab.com/s/spirit/61731.html?no_takeover

Spirit - Taurus tab
Only an amateur would confuse them for the same song.

You are absolutely correct!

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Only an amateur would confuse them for the same song.

Or "journalists" with nothing better to report on. ;)

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5/31 was the filing date. Was that deliberate?

I'm sure that our Draco look-alike has a nefarious and well thought-out timeline for his actions. Every action is calculated in lawsuits, so the timing probably was deliberate in its being filed prior to the first releases. I'd be just guessing that it was a just-in-case move combined with a bid for maximum exposure by getting lots of people to look at the lawsuit on the coattails of LZ I, II & III publicity. The just-in-case part is commonly done to cover all possible bases even if you can't yet imagine how it would be useful. I wouldn't be surprised that Draco would claim additional damages because the LZ I, II & III publicity raised awareness of IV and therefore the upcoming STH would be worth even more than a stand-alone. But I'm just guessing.

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