Thursday, June 5, 2014

Copyright Infringment or Just The Wrong Stairway?

Crazy that Business Week has one of the more interesting music articles I have read in sometime. Vernon Silver talks about the copyright controversy surrounding "Stairway To Heaven".
Read it Right Here
This is just one more twist and turn in the ever changing music industry. In our younger days there are two main reasons we never really liked Led Zeppelin anymore then say Foghat.

One reason was in our formidable years we had a co-worker at our first job who was a Jimmy Page fanboy to the umpteenth degree; he was insufferable with Page stories, legends and myths . He played Zep all the time in the break room and while they were fine (other tunes played there were worse) he never mentioned the band much as a whole it was all about Page. I have always loved Hendrix then and still do, this adversarial relationship with a co-worker turned into a pissing match about which guitarist was better...childish for sure, but forming and solidifying competitive feelings that still stick around today, and not just with us:
The second reason is in direct relation to the article linked here today. I may have said it before on the site but the first 2 CD's I ever bought were Storm Troopers Of Death and John Lee Hooker on the same trip (an odd combo but aren't they all). Leaving the metal alone for now, we always have been drawn to the blues and after Hooker we got into all the greats, including Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. To this day "Whole Lotta Love" is easily our favorite Zep song, because it is a Willie Dixon cover, plain and simple.

It is not a direct lift, but it is clearly that song redone. Even the younger version of myself felt outraged that Zep never gave credit to Dixon until they were sued. It smacks of elitist entitlement and exploitation of the highest order. Even more bluntly put it is a total dick move by Page and company because there is no denying the connection,

There are also clear race issues here which are directly linked to money, respect/disrespect, greed,white privilege, etc etc. Obviously we are not the only ones who felt that way, having settled that case the article clearly mentions 3 other documented cases the band did this! Including "Whole Lotta Love" and if the Stairway case is found out that would make 5.

Of course ideas come from different places and inspiration can strike anywhere, I would even totally believe Page thought he invented the part when he wrote it. However once it is pointed out, proper credit is due, especially when art and commerce intersect to this great extent. Well, what do you think, are the songs the same? Should credit be given? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

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