Stairway to Heaven in copyright trial

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mixstar, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. Mixstar

    Mixstar Just too tired . . .

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    151
    [​IMG]
    Led Zeppelin guitarist Page (right) and lead singer Plant are reputed to have written Stairway
    to Heaven in a remote cottage in Wales


    This made me laugh out loud, "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold" but Michael Skidmore only just found out?

    To read on: Source BBC UK entertainment & arts
     
  2. Ovibos

    Ovibos Naughty Wood Librarian

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2015
    Messages:
    2,064
    Likes Received:
    3,588
    Well since half of all PRS owners are, by rule, lawyers - can one advise on the statute of limitations on this?

    And can someone from the other half, doctors, advise me on how to deal with this rib pain I've incurred from all the laughing?
     
    HANGAR18 and Huggy B like this.
  3. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    11,790
    Likes Received:
    17,185
    Clock reset because of remastering and rerelease in 2014.
     
  4. Ovibos

    Ovibos Naughty Wood Librarian

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2015
    Messages:
    2,064
    Likes Received:
    3,588
    Interesting...I would have thought that applied to 'performance' only and not 'songwriting'.
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    25,220
    Likes Received:
    23,682
    There's actually a split of authority (in American copyright law) as to whether a claim must be filed within 3 years of the date the person claiming infringement discovered or "should have discovered" the infringement, or whether it accrues with the "date of injury" (the release date of the remix).

    IMHO these kinds of splits in the law should never be allowed to exist in the case of media claims, because media is released everywhere, and people releasing records need to be able to refer to one set of rules for everyone. Unfortunately, that is not the case with several copyright law issues.

    I have no clue as to how this is dealt with in the UK (where evidently the claim arose?).

    It's certainly odd that someone would wait 45 years or so to file a claim like this...

    "I'm sorry, I was marooned on a desert island since 1971, and never heard the Zep record before this week."
     
    11top and The Fight like this.
  6. Mixstar

    Mixstar Just too tired . . .

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    151
    Indeed, in fact something as simple as a self addressed letter posted but left unopened, maybe with a copy of the tune, would suffice as evidence of the writing date and would stand up in court. So, surely, the lads would have some proof if not they could be struggling?

    "While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure," Judge Klausner ruled.

    Do you think he knows his stuff or has he got a guitar mentor?
     
    Dusty Chalk likes this.
  7. Mixstar

    Mixstar Just too tired . . .

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    151
    That's what made me chuckle, why so long? I'd be on it like a rash the first I heard of it! I agree there are similarities but the judge stated that kind of thing abounds. One thing, wait for "Taurus" to hit the charts.
     
  8. goat-n-gitter

    goat-n-gitter Dismembered

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,823
    Likes Received:
    2,064
    If I read the story correctly, it is Randy California's heirs who are pursuing this. Maybe they weren't happy with the size of their inheritance?

    Tom
     
  9. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    3,601
    Likes Received:
    4,101
    I'm writing from memory so there may be some details wrong, but I believe the band involved (Spirit) opened for LZ or was it LZ opening for Spirit; anyway, they were together at some point and their song does hold some similarity to the opening of Stairway. Then some time later Stairway comes out. So maybe their song did influence Page, he could well have heard it, but that isn't ripping them off. That's not to say he didn't rip off lots of stuff, but IMO his presentation is entirely original.

    You can't play a blues I-IV-V riff that's original. It's all been done before.
     
  10. WeFixFlats

    WeFixFlats Respect The Clave

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    1,075
    If you compare the Tab of 'Taurus" and 'Stairway'...they are NOT the same 'chord progression'. As soon as the A Flat and B are played it's different.

    I think just is just a money grubbing play, with the lawyers behind it.

    And I guarantee Page will fight this to the end no matter what the cost. I would and hope he does too.
     
    The Fight likes this.
  11. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenf├╝hrer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,491
    Likes Received:
    2,187
    I don't know, they sound similar enough to me...
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    25,220
    Likes Received:
    23,682
    This is an urban legend, but not true. It would not stand up in court. It might be admitted as general evidence and added to the pile, but it'd be given no more weight than a statement of a witness that he/she authored it.

    Proper registration of the copyright gives the first person registering it a legal presumption of copyright ownership, and in every case, major labels register copyrights before releasing records. So if all you have is a letter you mailed to yourself, something that can be faked, you can't overcome the presumption.

    Sorry. You write a work, you fail to register the copyright, you are in deep doo-doo in court. In my former life as a lawyer, I litigated copyright matters.
     
    veinbuster likes this.
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    25,220
    Likes Received:
    23,682
    That's insulting, stereotyped, and offensive as hell.

    What'd you think, a forum half made up of lawyers (aren't all PRS owners lawyers or doctors?) was gonna sit by while you spew this kind of sh!t at them, and say nothing in response?

    I'm so over letting that happen.

    Lawyers only take cases that their "money grubbing" clients bring them.

    Makes no sense to blame the lawyer when it's the client who picks up the phone, calls the lawyer, insists his/her rights were violated, and gets the lawyer involved!

    I've litigated some high profile copyright cases; they're among the most difficult, time consuming, and costly for the firm litigating them, and you don't take them on just for sh^ts and giggles. It's standard practice for the lawyer to bring in a musicologist for an expert opinion as to the legitimacy of a claim, prior to filing a case. In fact, those who don't can be held accountable by the courts for failing to exercise due diligence!

    That's how this stuff works. It pisses me off when people blame lawyers for what clients instigate.

    Since I know none of the facts of the case that's the subject of this thread, I don't have an opinion on it, and at this stage of the game, it's best to wait and see. In any case, however, I won't sit still and allow that kind of stereotyping to go unchallenged.
     
    #13 LSchefman, Apr 12, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
    veinbuster likes this.
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    25,220
    Likes Received:
    23,682
    This is why most copyright cases revolve around melodies, not chord progressions. Of course, there are no rules requiring this, and every case is a fact question for the judge or jury, but in general, it's the melodic content that seems to be the main point made by the musicologists.

    Another example is that for 30 years, most jazz tunes used the III-VI-II-V-I chord changes called the "Rhythm Changes," since they were based on "I've Got Rhythm," Gershwin's 1930 hit.

    Of course, Mozart wrote plenty using the same changes... ;)
     
  15. helmi

    helmi single & satin

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2012
    Messages:
    543
    Likes Received:
    96
    ME TOO! spirit was a great band.
     
  16. WeFixFlats

    WeFixFlats Respect The Clave

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    1,075

    Yes, 'The Client'(the money grubber) brings their case to 'The Lawyers' I will conceded that point.
     
    #16 WeFixFlats, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  17. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    23,095
    Likes Received:
    35,951
    Overall, I think lawyers get a raw deal. Sure, some deserve the vitriol heaped upon them, but the majority don't. That's no different than almost any business you can name. There are bottom feeders out there in all aspects of life, lawyers are no different. The endless commercials for ambulance chasers don't help either. But face it, someone has to be willing to help those that can't help themselves. It's a noble profession, regardless of preconceived notion and stereotype. And no, I am not a lawyer, nor is anyone in my extended family.

    Having said that, I would be curious Les, what percentage you think turn away business that the money hungry clients bring?
     
  18. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenf├╝hrer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,491
    Likes Received:
    2,187
    I feel about lawyers the same way I feel about taxi drivers -- you only see/hear/read about the bad because that's what makes the news, you hate them, they're everywhere...until you need one, then you want the best you can afford. Possibly the same one you were cursing when you didn't need one.

    I don't think it's money grubbing specifically, I suspect because this started making the rounds on the Internet recently, that they revisited whether or not they had a case, decided they did, so began seeking legal counsel, and it is only now coming to a head.

    And certainly it's been done before -- a lot of LZ's first album are covers, but done with LZ's unique slant. Rolling Stones were accused of copying the Beatles stylistically, delayed by a year or two. Search on "Coldplay Kraftwerk" or "Coldplay Satriani".

    I'm not going to try this case out of court -- I have insufficient information, no legal training, and far better things to do. But from one listen, I think there's enough of a case that it should go to trial.
     
    Mixstar likes this.
  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    25,220
    Likes Received:
    23,682
    Hard to know. I used to turn down cases all the time. A case that has no merit does no one any favors, and is a costly waste of time for the losing lawyer (whose clients inevitably refuse to pay for the work because clients are never happy when they lose). Beyond that, a lawyer who brings a frivolous claim better not do it in Federal courts having exclusive jurisdiction over copyright cases (as explained below).

    I frequently had prospective clients come shopping for a lawyer on matters that other lawyers had turned down, so I know that lots of other lawyers were also not in the business of taking on frivolous cases. Why would they want to waste their time?

    However, as you say, there are those that will take them out of inexperience, desperation or arrogance.

    Interestingly, the last copyright matter I litigated was a claim against a writer and the artist, publisher and major label who released the song. Several parties were named. We (the defense, consisting of several firms) felt that the case was frivolous.

    After the other side lost, the Court awarded substantial fees to our side - "loser pays" is standard in copyright and other intellectual property cases - but here's the kicker: the court held the losing attorney jointly responsible for the judgment along with his clients based on this attorney's misconduct during the litigation of the case, and the fact that it was frivolous. You do not play games in most federal courts.

    This judgment was upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and certiorari (the request to appeal further) was denied by the US Supreme Court.

    The fact is that the profession holds its attorney members liable for irresponsible conduct. This is often not recognized by people who are critical of lawyers, but other than the medical and dental professions, I am not aware of another business that polices its members this way.

    I agree, they don't help the image, and yet, until 1975 or so, it was illegal for lawyers to advertise for most of the 20th century in most states - because it was felt that it would demean the profession. Doctors and hospitals were also prohibited from advertising, as were prescription drug manufacturers.

    Everyone hated lawyers then anyway, so I'm not sure anyone's opinion was really changed. ;)

    What happened was that those who wanted to advertise challenged these rulings based on freedom of speech, and courts everywhere agreed that they couldn't uphold these laws.

    In fact today it isn't just ambulance chasers who advertise; the big silk stocking firms do, too, they just don't do it on TV. They advertise in Crain's, or Forbes, etc. And of course, doctors and hospitals advertise like crazy.

    It's interesting that in the days when Abe Lincoln had a silk stocking firm before he was president (he represented Big Railroading), he advertised.

    I liked it better when there was no advertising. I thought it was unprofessional to advertise, even after the ban was lifted, but I probably should have done it like everyone else. ;)
     
    #19 LSchefman, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  20. Mixstar

    Mixstar Just too tired . . .

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    151
    Look at Oasis, if they aren't a Beatles tribute band my ears have turned to kippers.
     
    #20 Mixstar, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
    Dusty Chalk likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice