Thursday, June 16, 2016

Led Zeppelin copyright case moves along

In 'Stairway to Heaven' trial: When does inspiration become plagiarism?, Lisa Suhay in the ChristianSM explores
the copyright case involving Led Zeppelin.

The suit is brought by the trustee of the estate of deceased guitarist and composer Randy Wolfe of the band Spirit, a rock band formed in 1967 in Los Angeles, and claims that the iconic opening riff of Stairway was lifted from the song "Taurus," performed at a 1970 concert in Britain that Mr. Plant allegedly attended.

"Taurus" would have been created before the Copyright Act of 1976 and would fall under the copyright law of 1909 (which does not have an explicit fair use provision).

Within the CSM piece, one has the text

“The line is, and always has been pretty much, whether you're creating a new work or something that's meant to replace or compete with the original,” Bailey says. “Taking something I've seen or heard and going a new direction with it is one thing, creating an imitation is another.”

"Fair use" in the current US copyright law (17 USC 107) includes consideration of

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

One might also note a post in TIME ( ), which includes

The defendants deny these allegations, arguing that Wolfe was a writer for hire and that the chord progression was too commonplace to copyright.

When Plant and Page explain the song’s origins in court next month, their lawyers have asked the judge to forbid any argument that the rockers’ memories may be flawed due to “adverse effects of drinking or drug use in the 1960s or later,” Bloomberg reports.


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