I was hoping someone would bring this up. Very interesting case, mainly due to the precedents in the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye case.
The Stairway guitar intro sure sounds similar to parts of the Spirit song. And, apparently there's a connection between the bands back when the songs were released.
But I'm not a composer nor am I a musician. How come Prince never got sued for "Little Red Corvette" by the writers of "Up The Ladder To The Roof"? The choruses on those songs seemed similar enough to me, especially considering the history between George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine".
Rock and roll trials are great. While new musicians struggle, Led Zeppelin is a huge money-making machine. As a LedZep fan, I want them to prevail. But if they lose and are forced to pay royalties, I will smile and be glad for the estate of Randy California.
The article says Randy California chose not to make a claim.
In this "Spirit", the matter should be dropped.
zep is unquestionably great, but has a long history of putting their names on other folks' tunes (or traditional songs) and, to my knowledge, already paid off for "dazed and confused" and "bring it on home." they also had to change the credit on "baby i'm going to leave you" to the actual writer, anne bredon, some 20 years later. not sure of the legal disposition of "lemon song" or "whole lotta love," but they're straight howling wolf/willie dixon cops. as for the intro to "stairway," i dont doubt that zep heard the spirit song first, but it's much more ambiguous as to whether zep crossed the line from "influence" to outright infringment. it's probably bad policy to draw the line too rigidly--almost everybody borrows elements from other songs, and in this specific case (as oppossed to :my sweet lord") the overall concepts of the songs were sufficiently different to give this one to zep.
One can’t help wondering why Led Zeppelin never went after the band that recorded the album, Hairway to Steven. Seems like a lawsuit made to order.
The weird thing about the outright Zep rip-offs is that Jimmy Page generally didn't bother to change the lyrics very much. When you borrow the chords and melody, it might be influence, but when you do that to Bert Jansch's Black Water Side and call your song Black Mountain Side, you're kinda begging for the lawsuit.
I don't think that Stairway falls into that category (and - were it up to me - I wouldn't award Spirit/Randy California's estate any money) but Page has poisoned the well so many times that he might lose this one on principle.
Please note , on copy right infringements there are just so many years
Not sure how many,and what % of the song was copied ?
It's a small portion of the song overall. It's accompanimental and not melodic. There shouldn't be much of a case here IMO but look what happened with the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye suit--those people on the jury must have ignored every instruction pertaining to the particulars of copyright law. I'd say there was less ground for a suit there than in the the Stairway case. Anyway, it's a shame that a great talent like Randy California will be known better for this rather than for all the great guitar parts he laid down over the years. The first four Spirit albums contain a lot of fine material.
And the new case over the Ed Sheeran song is another one without merit. It's a pretty common chord progression, and more importantly, it's only a chord progression.
I myself was very happy when Willie Dixon won his lawsuit against P & P for their blatant thievery, and was awarded a healthy financial settlement.
I am not an attorney, but I just can't see where this case has any merit.
To my way of thinking, if it did have merit, Randy California (the party who was harmed) would have filed decades ago (when he was alive). His heirs probably got the idea and approached a law firm who would take the case on "contingency", and the law firm figured that, even if they lost, the free publicity would be worth it.
Everybody "steals", but P&P took it to the max. Check out this video
You are going to see more lawsuits like this as a result of the Marvin Gaye "Got To Give It Up" ruling. It doesn't have to be the melody or the chords, but the "feel" can now be infringed. Artist used to be driving the lawsuits, but attorneys are now marketing their skills and trying to solicit clients.
Oh please, you've got to be kidding with those examples onhwy61!!!!
Who was MORE plagerized than Chuck Berry if we're going to get real here. Imitation, the greatest form of flattery except when money is concerned, "you've got a buck, how do I get some" . It's only rock and roll we're talking about here, originality is few and far between IMHO.
Long live Zep for the originality of THEIR SOUND!!
onhwy61---I hadn’t seen the video before, and was struck by how much better all the original versions are (except the Joan Baez, of course ;-). I first learned of LZ1 from a high school/now college friend (non-musician) who had heard it in the school library, and was raving about it to me. I had my doubts, as Page had already ruined one of my favorite bands in 65-67, The Yardbirds. Following first Clapton then Beck in the group, his guitar playing was.....what’s the word? Oh yeah---lame. I went to the library and listened for myself, and couldn’t believe how bad the album was. Laughably bad.
There were some great guitarists playing locally in my hometown of San Jose, one of them being Robben Ford, who had just moved down from very Northern California with his brothers. Every guitarist in San Jose had seen the bar raised significantly with Robben’s arrival. Ford ended up in San Francisco playing with Charlie Musselwhite before moving down to L.A., where he went on to play with everyone from George Harrison to Miles Davis (!).
Along come these pasty white boys (British, even) pretending to play "da Blues". Listening in horror to that album, I was filled with shame, embarrassed to be white. Sonny Boy Williamson, sitting with The Hawks (The Band) in 1965 and making plans to go on the road, had just returned from a tour of England, where he had been provided a band comprised of local musicians, some of them later quite famous and successful. His comment about them to The Hawks: "Those English boys.....they want to play the Blues in the worst way. And that’s just how they play it".
Led Zeppelin---the most over-rated and undeservedly successful band in the history of music.
What the hell took them so long? (Case over)
onhwy61, I disagree ("the feel can now be infringed")? I think the jury ignored the letter of the law in the M. Gaye case and I predict the ruling will be reversed on appeal for that reason.
Otherwise, expect inmate Phil Spector to sue Brian Wilson ("Don't Worry Baby") and the estate of Bo Diddley to sue half of creation.
It's alright to perform other people's music as long as you pay royalties and give credit. Therefore as long as whoever owns the rights to a song is asked or paid it's okay. When Weird Al does a parody he has to get permission from the person or company that owns the rights to the song. As in "Like a Surgeon" he had to get permission from Madonna.
" ... When Weird Al does a parody he has to get permission from the person or company that owns the rights to the song. As in "Like a Surgeon" he had to get permission from Madonna."
Sorry, but you're mistaken. While you may be correct that Weird Al works closely with the artists he parodies, he’s under no legal obligation to do so. In the U.S., parody and satire are protected under the Fair Use provision of copyright law. The definitive case on this was 2 Live Crew’s treatment of "Oh Pretty Woman." See Acuff-Rose Music v. Campbell, which was decided by the Supreme Court.
To clarify me earlier post, I'm a big LZ fan and the fact that they have a history of stealing others' material is just some baggage that come along with the group. Remember what Joe E. Brown says at the end of "Some Like It Hot"!
Tostadosunidos, you may very well be correct. I just think some attorneys are in there's blood in water shark mode and we're going to see more lawsuits.
Bdp24, I don't disagree with your assessment of 60s British blues players in general, although I do have serious respect for Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor as blues guitarists. One of my favorite guitar solos of all time is JP on the Yardbird's "Smile On Me
", but the song is straight rip-off of Howling Wolf. But then again, Chester Burnett didn't really write "Sitting On Top Of the World". Everybody steals.
Interestingly, I had created a random Spotify "radio" channel just a couple days ago and Taurus came on. I immediately thought to myself- what a Stairway to Heaven rip off. (I’d never heard it before). Then I thought- I wonder which one came first...
Then I saw this thread. I actually see some merit in the case. The songs are undeniably similar in some ways.
It wasn’t I who said the Brits play Blues "in the worst way", it was Sonny Boy Williamson! I myself like a fair number of them, if you include Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Yeah, Clapton, Page, and Peter Green, but also Albert Lee (not a Blues player, but still), Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremmer, Richard Thompson, Danny Kirwin, Mark Knopfler, Chris Spedding (fantastic player!), plenty of others. Page, however, is not respected by his peers not only for the topic of this post, but for his guitar playing as well. Very, very sloppy (he was obviously Slash's role model ;-). And Plant’s "singing"? If you look in the dictionary for the definition of corny, "trying-too-hard-to-sound-soulful" singing, there should be a picture of Robert. Just God awful, the absolute worst-of-the-worst. Just my opinion of course, one shared by Sonny Boy Williamson.
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
Still, reading about Led Zep in the headlines for other than trashing hotel rooms and violating our daughters is awesome and welcome. I read every news update I could on this. Trial should have been longer, with maybe some more guest appearances. Great courtroom sketches too.
And the best part is that there will be some curious young music lovers who will now investigate LZ and discover how great they are/were.
It is all so childish and terribly silly; those very guitar figures were composed and widely used a variety of Baroque settings during the 17th century.