UPDATE: Led Zeppelin Has Backup In Their Copyright Case
Led Zeppelin in The Song Remains The Same - NEA ZIXNH / Youtube
The Led Zeppelin epic “Stairway To Heaven” has been involved in a legal debacle, after the band was accused of lifting a certain riff from the song “Taurus” by Spirit.
In this legal battle, over a hundred kindred acts have pledged support for the band, because they will “undoubtedly be affected by the outcome of this critically important case,” as stated in an amicus brief filed in the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals.
While the claims of plagiarism has been dismissed by a Californian federal jury, a member of Zep’s legal team admitted the riff’s availability in the public domain, which called for an appeal by the representative of the late Spirit member and songwriter, Randy California.
Rock acts and artists such as Tool, Korn, and Sean Lennon, and institutions such as Songwriters of North America and the Nashville Songwriters Association International, allied with Led Zeppelin’s cause, stating in the amicus brief, “There was no evidence presented at the Led Zeppelin trial that the otherwise unprotected elements that appeared in ‘Taurus’ were presented in such an original pattern or compilation as to garner copyright protection.”
“The purported ‘selection and arrangement’ in ‘Taurus’ that also appeared in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ merely [consists] of random similarities of commonplace elements. After filtering out the generic elements or musical commonplaces identified in ‘Taurus’ under the extrinsic test, what remains are two completely different songs,” the brief continues.
Francis Malofiy, attorney for the Spirit camp, dismisses this with “It represents 123 songwriters out of roughly 500,000 – a whopping .02 percent. It’s really nothing more than a blast piece for the industry.”
This grey area between copyrighting music caused further debate on how public domain like scales (chromatic, in this case) and note arrangements could be grounds for suing has been a hot issue as of late.