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Representatives of a 1960s band called Spirit has sued Led Zeppelin for plagiarism, claiming that "Stairway to Heaven" borrowed its melody from a Spirit song called "Taurus." "Taurus" was written in 1967, "Stairway" in 1972. A Los Angeles district court judge has just decided that the suit deserves a jury trial.

There's no way to deny that the arpeggio of the opening chords in the introduction of "Stairway" sounds amazingly like "Taurus." But the introduction to "Taurus" also sounds amazingly like the Beatles' "Michelle," if you ask me. So maybe the holders of the Lennon/McCartney songbook (aka the heirs of Michael Jackson) should sue the heirs of the deceased Spirit members.

But if the Spirit folks are going to sue anyone ever influenced by their band, I guess they should add Greg Lake to the list for "I Believe in Father Christmas," 1974. Because about 20 seconds into that song, I also hear "Taurus."

But wait. How could one song be "Stairway to Heaven," "Michelle," and "I Believe in Father Christmas" all at the same time?

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Comment by BlancheNoE on April 13, 2016 at 7:48am

In answer to your final question: Because they're Led-Fucking-Zeplin ! but seriously, if they win the suit I'm so screwed because everything song I've ever written is a rip-off of somebody and all my video ideas are from Monty Python and Outer Limits. Wait, since I never made any money off of any of it, does that mean they owe me money ? Can I at least get a cease and desist order to frame for my wall ? I mean at least 4 people are very familiar with my stuff. Aren't they worried about me biting into their profits? I find it fascinating that these lawyers think that any rock musician was a good enough money manager to have saved anything to sue for. 

Comment by Chig on April 14, 2016 at 2:39pm

It's very weird law.  The intent to copy is irrelevant.   It merely needs to be judged by the jury  listeners to sound overly similar.  However, since Zep opened for Spirit prior to Stairway being released... I can imagine a little admiration of a phrase of the song / inspiration / borrowing happened.... but again... irrelevant.  You hear the borrowing over and over.  It's commonplace and not just in music.   I suggest watching Kirby Ferguson's talk "everything is a remix".

Comment by NatureJunkie on April 19, 2016 at 1:08am

Chig, I've seen the Kirby Ferguson talk. And I agree, a law that leaves intent out of the question is very weird. Some have brought up the issue of homage, which often includes content that was copied with intent, because a deliberate bow is being made to the source of it. I find it ridiculous that Men at Work were forced to share songwriting credit and royalties with the guy who wrote the "Kookaburra Song" because a line or two of the flute solo were reminiscent of its melody--on purpose. A line of a tune, or a descending bass on an A minor chord, does not an entire melody make.

Too bad songwriting doesn't have something like footnotes, where you can give credit to bits of musical reference, the way you would in writing if you were quoting another author.

Comment by NatureJunkie on April 19, 2016 at 1:10am

Well Blanche, I think you're a total original, and that is why your reputation is intact.

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