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Folk Singer Just Notices That Led Zeppelin May Have Copied His Song Forty Years Ago

from the a-bit-late-there dept

Reader Tim DiPaula alerts us to the news that folks singer Jake Holmes is suing Jimmy Page for copyright infringement, claiming that the Led Zeppelin song "Dazed and Confused" is a copy of his own song, of the same name, recorded two years earlier. The TMZ link above has clips from both songs, which certainly have some pretty serious similarities. But what's really amazing, of course, is that Holmes recorded his song in 1967, and Zeppelin did their song in 1969. And Holmes is just noticing now? TMZ notes that copyright law has a three year statute of limitation, saying that this lawsuit can only cover damages from the last three years. But, of course, as with all things copyright law related, it might not be that simple. The courts have been somewhat divided on this, but some interpret the law to say exactly what TMZ says -- that it will only cover infringement from the past three years. However, others have interpreted it to mean that it's only three years from the last infringing act. So as long as infringement has been happening all along... some courts will cover that entire period. Of course, you might think that regardless of the statute of limitations issues, Page has a pretty damn good laches claim. Forty plus years to bring the lawsuit? Yeah, the courts might not like that very much.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    this one is a fail is so many ways. mostly waiting 40 years to get around to it. it is not like the led zep song was not wildly popular and well known, a staple item of pretty much every concert they gave from day 1 until the untimely death of drummer John Bonham in 1980. you would have had to have been hiding under a musical rock not to hear this song at some point over that time.

    i expect something like a summary dismissal as 'too late'.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    while we are on music, mike, are you going to address the cancellation of much of the lilith tour this year?

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    Um, because the Girrl and Womyn movements died out back in the 90s. How it lasted as long as it did was the surprising part.

     

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  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    please go away ...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re:

    you first.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Zeppelin lifted a LOT of musical ideas back then with people they originally toured with when they were still a new band. Some songs like "Stairway" have nearly identical chord progressions and appregio passages as other songs. So Holmes is probably right. But way too late to make accusations 40 years later.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    TMZ notes that copyright law has a three year statute of limitation

    im no lawyer, but doesn't 3 years statute limitation imply that Jake Holmes had till 1972 to sue Jimmy Page?

     

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  8.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    I honestly thought it was pretty common knowledge that most of the songs on the first Zep album are "stolen" -- the whole point of that album wasn't songwriting, it was the crazy original style of arrangement and production that really defined the "psychedelic rock" sound.

    I've heard people bitching that the songs aren't theirs for years and years. How is this guy just finding out about it now?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    oh, let me add this (from wiki, but its is pretty relevant):

    ""Dazed and Confused" is arguably the album's centerpiece: a foreboding arrangement featuring a descending bass line from Jones, heavy drumming from Bonham and some powerful guitar riffs and soloing from Page. It also showcased Page playing guitar with a violin bow (an idea suggested by David McCallum Sr., whom Page had met while doing studio session work).[17] The bowed guitar in the middle section of the song brought psychedelic rock to experimental new heights, especially in extended stage versions, building on Page's earlier renderings of the song during the latter days of The Yardbirds. "Dazed and Confused" would become Led Zeppelin's signature performance piece for years to come."

    the yardbirds date back to the mid 60s, well before the date this guy claims the song. want to bet he spent a little time listening to the yardbirds?

     

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  10.  
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    Kate Ebneter, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re:

    Actually, pretty much the entire music industry has known for 40+ years that "Dazed and Confused" was lifted almost intact from Jake Holmes. The question in my mind is, indeed, why in the hell he's only suing _now_? He could have sued ages and ages ago and he had then a _very_ strong claim. This is just weird.

     

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  11.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re:

    Perhaps he just came off a brief 40+ year bender?

     

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  12.  
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    bob, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    Re:

    Why would Mike give a rats ass about Adams first wife.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    He was dazed and confused for 40 years.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re:

    i personally would bet something like he is near his deathbed and his ungrateful offspring are trying to get a bunch of money. i have nothing to base this one on, just speculation.

     

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  15.  
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    interval (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    Howard Stern made a big deal of this about two or three years ago on his Sirius Show. I'm not sure, but even if you don't listen to satellite radio or are not a Stern fan others have noticed the similarities between Zep and other artists' songs. AND take away the point that artists have ripped off from other artists since the history of art; Holmes is JUST NOW getting around to taking back what is "his"? Where does the guy live? In a cave in a remote desert island? Maybe he was the last person to ever talk to Amelia Earhart...

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you realize that you're sounding more and more reasonable with every post? Does this mean you're going to go back to being the Anti-Mike?

     

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  17.  
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    172pilot (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Dazed and confused.

    He's been dazed and confused for SO long.... It must be true..

     

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  18.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "He was dazed and confused for 40 years."

    For so long? It's not true....

     

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  19.  
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    Robert Humphreys, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    re.

    I think this was covered in the book Hammer of The Gods... I am not sure, but i think he gave them the song in the beginning. Maybe Jimmy played guitar on the original? dang, i hate getting old and forgetting everything... But, check that book, I know there are references to that song in it...

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    But copying each other stifles innovation and new songs. Copying can't be allowed, not for 95 years!!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Laches defense generally applies only to equity claims, not statutory ones.

     

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  22.  
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    TW Burger (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh! The irony...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No you first, I insist.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He just stopped taking acid last month!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    See folks that is what happens when you suddenly stop smoking weed :)

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, at least he at least sometimes knows what day of the week it is. Give him some credit here, he should be so proud of himself!!

     

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  27.  
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    rifferama, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    I think the contributor who suggested that this might be engineered by parties with soon-to-be-executory interests is on the right train of thought. My variation is the suspicion that Jake Holmes' works may soon be reissued, either as individual discs or as a box set (the last available versions I'm aware of were bootlegs on the Radioactive label). This *might* simply be preliminary promotion 101.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Will it be available in sharesomesugar.com?

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/30/neighborgoods-borrow.html

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    If copyright had a saner duration (for instance 5 years or less) this would not be an issue anymore.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re:

    yet it is backed by the guru of all music, mr nettwerk himself. odd isnt it to see how this works out?

     

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  31.  
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    Esahc (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Win

     

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  32.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    not so fast there roger ramjet.
    there are stories as far back as 2001 about this issue where this guy has been trying to get something done on this.

    yes, we are still talking a very lengthy amount of time in that case, but over the last 9 years there are stories about this? with no way of knowing if there are any requests that predate these stories?

    clearly does not paint a picture of an almost dead musician whose family is just trying to get a quick payday. that may be playing a minor role in this, but i really dont think thats all there is to it.

    i also really dont think they are going to get very far with a lawsuit since page has pretty much admitted that he changed enough to get around the existing copyright laws at the time to not allow for a plagiarism suit... but im not the lawyer so dunno how that would be handled today.

     

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  33.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Screeching Weasel hates Led Zeppelin too

    That's why they have a song on their Boogadaboogada album titled "I hate Led Zeppelin". Wonder who actually wrote the lyrics? Hmmmmmm......might there be a connection?

     

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  34.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I was talking about the imaginary voices you so obviously hear ... just trying to help ... :)

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Dazed and confused.

    Lots of people talking
    Few of them know
    Soul of TAM was created below

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    U2

     

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  37.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    U2

    Wish they would go away...

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    "i expect something like a summary dismissal as 'too late'."

    I thought copyright lasted for life + 40 years (or something)?

     

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  39.  
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    kid mercury (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    yup, led zeppelin is likely to be the biggest thieves in musical history. and i'm not referring to borrowing a chord progression or two, or being inspired by some techniques....this is outright theft, inexcusable even to creative commons, open systems loving people like myself. page and plant are great performers, but as for their compositional capabilities.....seems like they come up mostly empty on that front.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    they are not the only ones to steal music outright, metallica, black eyed peas, all stole music

     

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  41.  
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    rjk (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Doesn't this kinda demonstrate that it's the execution not the idea?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    I was listening to a radio show where they played more than a few songs and the originals they were likely lifted from. It's pretty blatant in just about every case.

    I still love Zep but I have much less respect for Page as a songwriter.

     

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  43.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It must be Wednesday!

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    eric, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    oh, come on, everyone knew this.

    it's true, the book Hammer of the Gods does cover this. But as documented there, Jake Holmes knew they stole it when he saw them live not too long after Page saw him perform the song in a bar. Holmes made no qualms about it -- he said he was going to let them have the song and that there was no harm in it.

     

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  45.  
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    JustSomeGuy, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:31pm

    It's not surprising at all that this guy has only just realised his stuff was "stolen". Anyone from the 60s who isn't already dead or married with grown-up children is probably only just now coming out of the drug-induced stupor they were in back then :-)

     

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  46.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:35pm

    Re:

    "it was the crazy original style of arrangement and production that really defined the "psychedelic rock" sound."

    I'm not so sure that Led Zep I did anything of the sort, to tell you the truth. Psychedlia was well established before the album appeared in North America.

    What the record did do was to establish the sound of heavy British blues, something The Yardbirds had failed at. To some degree they defined it.

    Along with the sound and playing of The Kinks and The Who, Led Zeppelin would serve as a model for what became Heavy Metal. For example Deep Purple got it's start as a blues band similar to Zep.

     

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  47.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 10:00pm

    Re:

    Actually the blues scene in England had been around quite a while before Zeppelin appeared on the scene.

    The earliest edition of the John Mayall's Bluesbreakers was in 1961 or 62 (I think) and that collection featured the likes of Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and others before Paige joined up. (Also Mick Fleetwood & John MacVie)

    So Paige, as a player has a good pedigree. On the other hand the Bluesbreakers were largely a cover band so songwriting wasn't a strong point of that "school".

    (The Stones were heavily influenced by the London based British Blues movement,too.)

    The songwriter was likely just as influenced by the Bluesbreakers as he was by The Yardbirds, all of whom were Bluesbreakers grads themselves.

     

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  48.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 10:09pm

    Re:

    Just think about it though. 40 years of Zep royalties from Zep themselves and every Zep cover band in creation!

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:58am

    Copyright vs Plagiarism

    Can someone with legal knowledge explain how plagiarism is considered as a copyright issue?
    I thought the copyright only covers the expression of the work (recording, musical score etc). So even if Led Zeppelin did plagiarise the song, as long as they recorded themselves playing it they were not infringing on the copyright of the original recording.

     

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  50.  
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    Deirdre, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Born 12/28/39. I'm tempted to buy the Amazon MP3 download of the album-- or I was until I found out he co-wrote a number of advertising jingles I really hate, including "Be a Pepper" and "Come See the Softer Side of Sears".

     

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  51.  
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    Flyfish, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    I believe the songwriting credits have always been Jake Holmes "arranged by the yardbirds"

    He might be owed royalties but it seems cheezy to come looking for them after all this time even if Page always was a musical pirate.

     

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  52.  
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    Kate Ebneter, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    "I believe the songwriting credits have always been Jake Holmes "arranged by the yardbirds""

    Where did you ever see that? On the first Led Zeppelin album it said "Page/Plant" like all the other songs.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Kate Ebneter, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Copyright vs Plagiarism

    Holmes wrote the music and the lyrics, and they are covered by copyright.

    Zep could have recorded the song and given him credit, paying him writer's royalties, of course. What they did instead was claim that _they_ wrote the song. So all the royalties (performance and writing) went to them.

    They did this to a lot of old blues musicians, too.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 3:07am

    Re: Re: Copyright vs Plagiarism

    The music and lyrics were covered by copyright in the form that they were fixed in. Zep didn't copy that, they recreated it. So I don't see how their version infringed on the copyright of the original.

    They might have plagiarised the song and should have credited Holmes and paid royalties, but I don't see how this situation is considered copyright infringement.

     

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  55.  
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    Kate Ebneter, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright vs Plagiarism

    All I can say in response to that is that you have no idea how copyright works with respect to music, then.

    The music and lyrics are covered by copyright, period. The recording is covered by a separate copyright.

     

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  56.  
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    Blues Man, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Whole Lotta Love

    Take a listen to Muddy Water's You Need Love. The similarities to Whole Lotta Love are striking.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    Really?
    Jimmy Page was in a band w/ Holmes called the Yardbirds. Jake Holmes wrote the song and performed it with page. After the band broke up, Page took an altered version of it to Led Zeppelin. Although, a much better song, the similarities are unmistakable.

     

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  58.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re:

    You are probably right. I'm by no means an expert on music history -- but it definitely seems apparent that what stood out about that album was its "sonic style", not the songwriting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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