Plagiarists Or Innovators? The Led Zeppelin Paradox Endures

from the copying-as-innovation dept

Fifty years ago – in September 1968 – the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin first performed together, kicking off a Scandinavian tour billed as the New Yardbirds.

The new, better name would come later that fall, while drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980 effectively ended their decade-defining reign. But to this day, the band retains the same iconic status it held back in the 1970s: It ranks as one of the best-selling music acts of all time and continues to shape the sounds of new and emerging groups young enough to be the band members’ grandchildren.

Yet, even after all this time – when every note, riff and growl of Zeppelin’s nine-album catalog has been pored over by fans, cover artists and musicologists – a dark paradox still lurks at the heart of its mystique. How can a band so slavishly derivative – and sometimes downright plagiaristic – be simultaneously considered so innovative and influential?

How, in other words, did it get to have its custard pie and eat it, too?

As a scholar who researches the subtle complexities of musical style and originality as well as the legal mechanisms that police and enforce them, such as copyright law, I find this a particularly devilish conundrum. The fact that I’m also a bassist in a band that fuses multiple styles of music makes it personal.

A pattern of ‘borrowing’

For anyone who quests after the holy grail of creative success, Led Zeppelin has achieved something mythical in stature: a place in the musical firmament, on its own terms, outside of the rules and without compromise.

When Led Zeppelin debuted its eponymous first album in 1969, there’s no question that it sounded new and exciting. My father, a baby boomer and dedicated Beatles fan, remembers his chagrin that year when his middle school math students threw over the Fab Four for Zeppelin, seemingly overnight. Even the stodgy New York Times, which decried the band’s “plastic sexual superficiality,” felt compelled, in the same article, to acknowledge its “enormously successful … electronically intense blending” of musical styles.

Yet, from the very beginning, the band was also dogged with accusations of musical pilfering, plagiarism and copyright infringement – often justifiably.

The band’s first album, “Led Zeppelin,” contained several songs that drew from earlier compositions, arrangements and recordings, sometimes with attribution and often without. It included two Willie Dixon songs, and the band credited both to the influential Chicago blues composer. But it didn’t credit Anne Bredon when it covered her song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”

The hit “Dazed and Confused,” also from that first album, was originally attributed to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. However in 2010, songwriter Jake Holmes filed a lawsuit claiming that he’d written and recorded it in 1967. After the lawsuit was settled out of court, the song is now credited in the liner notes of re-releases as “inspired by” Holmes.

‘Dazed and Confused’ by Jake Holmes.

The band’s second album, “Led Zeppelin II,” picked up where the first left off. Following a series of lawsuits, the band agreed to list Dixon as a previously uncredited author on two of the tracks, including its first hit single, “Whole Lotta Love.” An additional lawsuit established that blues legend Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett was a previously uncredited author on another track called “The Lemon Song.”

Musical copyright infringement is notoriously challenging to establish in court, hence the settlements. But there’s no question the band engaged in what musicologists typically call “borrowing.” Any blues fan, for instance, would have recognized the lyrics of Dixon’s “You Need Love” – as recorded by Muddy Waters – on a first listen of “Whole Lotta Love.”

Dipping into the commons or appropriation?

Should the band be condemned for taking other people’s songs and fusing them into its own style?

Or should this actually be a point of celebration?

The answer is a matter of perspective. In Zeppelin’s defense, the band is hardly alone in the practice. The 1960s folk music revival movement, which was central to the careers of Baez, Holmes, Bredon, Dixon and Burnett, was rooted in an ethic that typically treated musical material as a “commons” – a wellspring of shared culture from which all may draw, and to which all may contribute.

Most performers in the era routinely covered “authorless” traditional and blues songs, and the movement’s shining star, Bob Dylan, used lyrical and musical pastiche as a badge of pride and display of erudition – “Look how many old songs I can cram into this new song!” – rather than as a guilty, secret crutch to hold up his own compositions.

Why shouldn’t Zeppelin be able to do the same?

On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the racial dynamics inherent in Led Zeppelin’s borrowing. Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf were African-Americans, members of a subjugated minority who were – especially back then – excluded from reaping their fair share of the enormous profits they generated for music labels, publishers and other artists.

Like their English countrymen Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin’s attitude toward black culture seems eerily reminiscent of Lord Elgin’s approach to the marble statues of the Parthenon and Queen Victoria’s policy on the Koh-i-Noor diamond: Take what you can and don’t ask permission; if you get caught, apologize without ceding ownership.

Led Zeppelin was also accused of lifting from white artists such as Bredon and the band Spirit, the aggrieved party in a recent lawsuit over the rights to Zeppelin’s signature song “Stairway to Heaven.” Even in these cases, the power dynamics were iffy.

Bredon and Spirit are lesser-known composers with lower profiles and shallower pockets. Neither has benefited from the glow of Zeppelin’s glory, which has only grown over the decades despite the accusations and lawsuits leveled against them.

A matter of motives

So how did the band pull it off, when so many of its contemporaries have been forgotten or diminished? How did it find and keep the holy grail? What makes Led Zeppelin so special?

I could speculate about its cultural status as an avatar of trans-Atlantic, post-hippie self-indulgence and “me generation” rebellion. I could wax poetic about its musical fusion of pre-Baroque and non-Western harmonies with blues rhythms and Celtic timbres. I could even accuse it, as many have over the years, of cutting a deal with the devil.

Instead, I’ll simply relate a personal anecdote from almost 20 years ago. I actually met frontman Robert Plant. I was waiting in line at a lower Manhattan bodega around 2 a.m. and suddenly realized Plant was waiting in front of me. A classic Chuck Berry song was playing on the overhead speakers. Plant turned to look at me and mused, “I wonder what he’s up to now?” We chatted about Berry for a few moments, then paid and went our separate ways.

Brief and banal though it was, I think this little interlude – more than the reams of music scholarship and journalism I’ve read and written – might hold the key to solving the paradox.

Maybe Led Zeppelin is worthy because, like Sir Galahad, the knight who finally gets the holy grail, its members’ hearts were pure.

During our brief exchange, it was clear Plant didn’t want to be adulated – he didn’t need his ego stroked by a fawning fan. Furthermore, he and his bandmates were never even in it for the money. In fact, for decades, Zeppelin refused to license its songs for television commercials. In Plant’s own words, “I only wanted to have some fun.”

Maybe the band retained its fame because it lived, loved and embodied rock and roll so absolutely and totally – to the degree that Plant would start a conversation with a total stranger in the middle of the night just to chat about one of his heroes.

This love, this purity of focus, comes out in its music, and for this, we can forgive Led Zeppelin’s many trespasses.The Conversation

Aram Sinnreich, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, American University School of Communication

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 14 Sep 2018 @ 7:57pm

    Cute, but once again Little Mikey has to resort to fueling his piracy portal with pro-piracy a**hole testimony and support for Section 230.

    No chance, Little Mikey. Section 13 will save us from the villainy you and your pirates chose to rape content creators with.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2018 @ 8:10pm

    Re:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Section 230 caused global warming.

    Section 230 invented the Black Death.

    Section 230 pissed in your oatmeal.

    Fucking hell, man, give it a break!

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

  3. identicon
    Roland, 14 Sep 2018 @ 8:25pm

    Robert Johnson

    No mention of this blues giant, died young like so many other great musicians, apparently poisoned by a jealous husband. See his wikipedia page. The original "Travelin' Riverside Blues" in acoustic is just as rockin' as the Plant version. Squeeze my lemon. Same for Clapton with "Cross Road Blues". The Stones listened to Delta Blues constantly. Everything old is new again.

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

  4. icon
    techflaws (profile), 14 Sep 2018 @ 9:48pm

    Re:

    I just read your nick and immediately clicked *report*. Thanks for making it easy!

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2018 @ 10:13pm

    Re:

    Now Smith has added "paranoia" to his list of charming qualities? Mike and the global lawyer conspiracy, and Robert Plant have robbed Smith of his deserved MILLIONS!

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2018 @ 11:12pm

    Re:

    So what you’re saying is, you’re so butthurt from getting raped all the time.

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

  7. identicon
    KEVIN FEARS, 15 Sep 2018 @ 12:55am

    ...

    My opinion? I'm a huge fan of making it law that any use of someone else's work, regardless of it's current legal status, should have no less than 50% of all royalties paid to that original artist or their existing families without any other option to contest. That would end most bands careers overnight.
    Creativity, adding to, embellishing, or tribute, is perfectly fine, as long as you give the original artist their dues.
    Zeppelin was a legend onto itself. Which as this self called scholar, who seems to be in bed with his own title, has to admit to himself and everyone else, is a fact that he's fully aware of.
    IF he had really done his homework, or cared about anything besides promoting himself by dropping names, [he knew exactly what would happen by writing this] he would realize that the band was all about the blending of their favorite styles with their personalities as the driving force. Making the end product unique by any definition.
    By my terms, they may have owed more than credit to a few artists, and if the law had been in place, I'm sure they wouldn't have minded at all. Probably would have taken it a few steps more.
    Broad statements without anything but your opinion, [no verifying facts] is not the truth. Just another snob speech at a lame party.
    Wanna ask 'em? Prove me wrong.
    Grow up and own it sinnreich.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 3:05am

    I'm a huge fan of making it law that any use of someone else's work, regardless of it's current legal status, should have no less than 50% of all royalties paid to that original artist or their existing families without any other option to contest.

    Would you approve of Disney taking half of Red Letter Media's income because of the Star Wars footage in those Plinkett reviews?

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 4:17am

    Re: ...

    I'm a huge fan of making it law that any use of someone else's work, regardless of it's current legal status, should have no less than 50% of all royalties paid to that original artist or their existing families without any other option to contest.

    Who should have received the money for all those public domain works that Disney used for its films?

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 4:43am

    "This love, this purity of focus, comes out in its music, and for this, we can forgive Led Zeppelin’s many trespasses"

    Uh, no. The sheer number of songs they covered without proper attribution and claimed as their own can't be handwaved that easily. Are we arguing that it was just sloppy paperwork on their part now or something? In the cases where they didn't simply borrow elements and expand (Stairway to Heaven), they outright stole the song and its style in its entirety without crediting the original authors.

    That's not a benign cover, that's stealing someone else's work and claiming it as your own. How you credit the original artist or not on the album information makes all the difference.

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

  11. icon
    Zof (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 5:25am

    Point/Counterpoint

    Point: They blatantly stole from everyone. Worse, they emboldened others to do the same. They did. Did they make it their own? Surely.

    Counterpoint(if weak): They were literally all gristled session musicians. Hired guns. The kind of people that play for Patti LaBelle when she's in town but don't get their name on the album. They were used to playing other people's music. You put a bunch of those guys together in a band, surprise, they keep playing other people's music for a while.

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

  12. icon
    Zof (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 5:31am

    Re: Robert Johnson

    "Well, we wanted a cute girl but that wasn't popular in our scene so Robert was the closest we could get."

    --Jimmy Page

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    I assume in your 10 yr. old mind, calling him "Little Mikey" so how hurts his feelings.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 7:44am

    That's not really a good idea. He's unregistered and might be more than one person...

    A lot of times, he's being trollish. Other times, not so much, even if you disagree with him.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 8:27am

    the subtle complexities of musical style and originality??

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

  16. identicon
    Lorenzo St. Dubois, 15 Sep 2018 @ 8:32am

    Paradox? What paradox!? Plagiarists OR innovators?

    How 'bout both?

    Disclaimer: I can't stand 'em. The people, I mean. And that kinda, sorta ruins the musical enjoyment. But they've had a handful of songs that even I have to have, despite hating their arrogant guts.

    I wanted to write "arrogant, assfaced guts", but then I realized that guts don't have faces. But then I remembered how far up their own asses their assfaced heads are, so - yes. Assfaced guts. See? Innovation LedZep style.

    Still you have to acknowledge their musical skills and admit that no matter how blatantly they stole some stuff wholesale, ripped off some other stuff and resembled very closely yet some other stuff, the questionable material makes up only a small part of their overall output - most of their music is original and indeed innovative wrt composition, technique, production and performance. Their influence is undeniable and their fame is still warranted and earned, no matter how begrudgeable.

    OH GOD BUT I HATE THEM!!!

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

  17. identicon
    tp, 15 Sep 2018 @ 8:35am

    Borrowing is evil

    Recarding copyright laws, every element of a published song needs to be original or valid licensing must exists. This means the practise where you mix&match other people's songs without permission is illegal practise. There are however few exceptions where I would allow it:
    1) if the author accidentally clones existing song after listening other works -- but even this becomes illegal once the level of professionalism gets higher -- basically professional artists _shouldn't listen_ other people's songs
    2) Usage of standard sample packs is acceptable, and substantial similarity checks cannot be used for that area, if both of the compared songs are using standard sample packs
    3) If the cloned part is common practise in the genre or only small variation of such practises -- i.e. if the practise is governed by some rules which cannot be broken when creating new works
    4) if something restrict's the artist's freedom to choose the elements of the work. For example if non-professional client of the band requests certain theme song to be used.

    On the other hand, here's some clearly illegal practises:
    a) cloning existing work by listening the work and simultaniously writing down notes to sheet of paper
    b) ripping or recording samples from existing songs
    c) mixing&matching of song elements from old songs

    But the level of illegality should be evaluated based on how much effort it takes to create the copied elements. If the effort amount is low or the elements copied are not essential to the song's popularity, it isn't that big deal.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 9:07am

    Re: Borrowing is evil

    On the other hand, here's some clearly illegal practises: a) cloning existing work by listening the work and simultaniously writing down notes to sheet of paper b) ripping or recording samples from existing songs c) mixing&matching of song elements from old songs

    Thanks for proving once again you don't know jack about fair use or remixing.

    You're still not getting that mansion, chuckles.

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

  19. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 9:07am

    A different planet...

    ... The author apparently isn't old enough to remember the sixties.

    Throughout the fifties and early sixties, "covering" a different artist's song was par for the course. Speed it up, slow it down, add a riff here or there.

    Pretty much every doo-wop song originating with black artists was "covered" by a white band. Usually to dismal results. Even the sainted Elvis covered songs like this.

    Where Led Zepplin and the barely-mentioned in passing Rolling Stones (do the Stones have ANY songs they didn't steal?) excelled was that their "version" was BETTER. People WANTED to hear their version, cover or not.

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

  20. identicon
    Pixelation, 15 Sep 2018 @ 9:08am

    Re: Borrowing is evil

    Except the root of music is plagiarism. The whole "ownership mentality" is the issue.

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

  21. identicon
    Too Much Coffee Man, 15 Sep 2018 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Borrowing is evil

    Indeed, all music is borrowed.

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

  22. icon
    restless94110 (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 11:10am

    Another View

    The author wants to attribute motives of white superiority and/or aristocracy to the practice of bands like Zep, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals of rearranging and recording songs written by old bluesmen. He also indicates some kind of cultural appropriation claim.

    But the reality then was obviously different. You may not be able to tell much from a trival conversation with Robert Plant 2 decades ago, but you can go to Keith Richard's autobiography to see what was at play here: musicians who heard something remakable in the nearly-forgotten and unpopular form of blues music.

    They were intensely excited by this new music. They didn't think of being white, they didn't think of the blues players as being black. They just admired and were enthralled by the music and how it was made.

    That some of the tracks were not properly accredited had more to do with their management and the idea of rock and roll and just wanting to have some fun.

    It's ridiculous to assess any other motives to the work of these great musicians. They stand right alongside all of the blues greats. And for those forgotten blues greats, many of them were saved from poverty by the white guys from England.

    It's ridiculous to even meantion cultural appropriation as it is a toxic and fake term: all human progress, innovation and creativity comes from one person imitating and adding to the work of other people and other cultures. Cultural appropration is a weasal term for segragation and stagnation. If it had been "enforced" in the 60s, UK musicians would have been prevented from creating iconic music that still influences us all today.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 12:30pm

    Bullshit !

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

  24. identicon
    Will B., 15 Sep 2018 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Another View

    The author wants to attribute motives of white superiority and/or aristocracy to the practice of bands like Zep, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals of rearranging and recording songs written by old bluesmen. He also indicates some kind of cultural appropriation claim.

    No, and no.

    The author notes that there are troubling social issues to consider. In no way does the author implicate anything about Led Zepplin's motives there.

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 5:39pm

    Led Zepplins one big top 10 hit was "Rock And Roll", in the early 1970s and the best song they ever did

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

  26. icon
    rick (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: ...

    Nobody. Public domain.

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

  27. icon
    techflaws (profile), 15 Sep 2018 @ 9:35pm

    Re:

    "John Smith" is unregistered?

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2018 @ 9:39pm

    Interesting article. I admit I first thought Mike was writing it until I saw the race baiting section. I then noticed it was a first-time writer for TechDirt.

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

  29. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 16 Sep 2018 @ 4:25am

    Re:

    I'm fairly sure there are people out there commenting as "John Smith" in order to impersonate the original person who got a reputation here under that name, and doing so specifically to troll both him and the rest of the site.

    Thing is, though, that the comments which appear as if they may be from such people tend to themselves be even more worthy of flagging than do the "legitimate" John Smith comments.

    That said, comments from the original guy do occasionally manage to be non-flag-worthy, and maybe even reasonable contributions to the discussion; I think I saw one like that this past week. So reflexively flagging based on the poster's (apparent) identity is still not the ideal way to approach things.

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

  30. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Sep 2018 @ 4:09pm

    Time to get your learnin' on.

    race baiting verb; always unhyphenated

    1. (derogatory) Dismissal of the criticism of racist policies/racial discrimination as an act that is needlessly inciting racial tension where none supposedly exists

      • Example: “I first thought Mike was writing [the article] until I saw the race baiting section.”
      1. The use of dogwhistle politics to incite racial tension

      2. Making an association between a person or people of a certain racial/ethnic group with someone of the same race/ethnicity who has a low public reputation to smear all people of that race/ethnicity
      • Example: “Donald Trump engaged in race baiting when he described Mexicans as ‘rapists’ during his presidential campaign.”

    race-baiting adjective; always hyphenated

    1. (derogatory) Descriptor for a person who criticises racist policies/racial discrimination is needlessly inciting racial tension where none supposedly exists

      • Example: “Black people who keep talking about racism are nothing but race-baiting assholes.”
    2. Descriptor for a person who engages in race baiting [See: race-baiting, def. 2]

      • Example: “Donald Trump has been a race-baiting asshole ever since he began his presidential campaign.”

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

  31. identicon
    Dave, 16 Sep 2018 @ 8:14pm

    Special

    "What makes Led Zeppelin so special? "
    John Bonham

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

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2018 @ 9:05pm

    Re: Borrowing is evil

    When you become ruler of the world, then you can make the rules. Until then, you're wrong.

    basically professional artists shouldn't listen other people's songs

    So you're saying all professional artists should be hermits then? Since it's literally impossible to go into any store or restaurant and not listen to someone else's songs.

    I've said this before, if you ban incorporating other styles or ideas from other songs into other artists' work, then you've effectively killed music genres, and music itself, since all music and genres have elements of, and build off of, other songs, artists, styles, and genres.

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

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2018 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Time to get your learnin' on.

    Was pretty clearly dogwhistle politics. It was only a small part of the article and I just found it jarring and out-of-place is all. The rest of the article more than made up for it.

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

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    RLRR LRLL

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

  35. identicon
    Beech, 17 Sep 2018 @ 9:53am

    Re: ...

    So, how would you split the royalties for someone like Madeon? Guy takes bits and pieces and phrases from dozens of other songs and mashes them together into something that sounds absolutely nothing like it's component parts.

    Would you say each person he sampled from gets 50% of any song proceeds? What if it totals up to more than 100%? What if he only puts his music up for free...but then sells tshirts or ask for patreon donations for himself rather than monatizing any actual music?

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Borrowing is evil

    it's literally impossible to go into any store or restaurant and not listen to someone else's songs.

    It's not literally impossible. Deaf people manage to do it. Or you could wear earplugs, go to a store without music, or have someone else shop for you. (These are all silly ideas; it's important for musicians to listen to other music.)

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

  37. identicon
    michael, 17 Sep 2018 @ 11:43am

    copyright on music & art is dumb

    Bach stole from Josquin. Mozart stole from Bach. Beethoven stole from Mozart. Wagner stole from Beethoven.

    All the great painters & architects stole from each other over and over again.

    Literally every 12-bar & 16-bar blues song is stolen by todays standards.

    The modern concept of locking down art is ridiculous. Yes, a note-for-note remake without attribution is bad. But taking pieces of other works to create new works -- both similar and dissimilar -- is the basis for every work of art we've had for millennia.

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

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 12:18pm

    Chuck Berry Stole

    Even Chuck Berry stole one of his greatest hits from some kid playing at the enchantment under the sea dance.

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

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 2:58pm

    If the dead could make laws and sue people to get rich, they would prosecute their descendants for DNA infringement.

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

  40. identicon
    Name, 17 Sep 2018 @ 5:46pm

    I'm Gonna Be Honest

    I missed this story because I have been off line. Everything I have read on the internet basically amounts to Robert Plant and the rest to ripping off other people. Fine by me, as it doesn't affect me. I have bought physical copies of their albums but have since moved on to torrent. They rip off other people it's alright, when we do it. we get sued. Where is the logic in that?

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

  41. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Sep 2018 @ 6:31pm

    Here we go again.

    dogwhistle politics

    Yeah, no, it was not. From RationalWiki:

    Dog whistle politics usually refers to the use of certain code words or phrases that are designed to be understood by only a small section of the populace. Generally speaking, these are phrases that have special meaning to that subsection entirely independent of its meaning to others, and represent a particularly insidious use of loaded language.

    The term alludes to the sound of a dog whistle, which can only be heard by the intended audience (the dog). In theory at least, dog whistle terms are only noticed and understood by the people they are intended for. In practice, the meaning is often understood by others. For example, negative references to "ghettos" are taken by pretty much everyone to mean "black parts of town."

    Nothing about the section of which you speak was “coded” for a subset of people. Nothing about that section was a dog whistle. You have misused both that term and “race baiting” in an attempt to denigrate a writer for saying something about racism when you did not want to think about racism. I am left to wonder why.

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

  42. identicon
    GL Charpied, 17 Sep 2018 @ 8:11pm

    Copyright, schmopyright

    Aram Sinnreich, Your descent from the empyrean heights of corporate arrogance impels you to pretend that copyright laws aren't anything more than fixing the market, biasing it for those with the gold (who make the rules), and managing a monopoly to exclude competition, much less originality. A corporate position, by the way, that fosters some notion of 'divine righteousness' to claim a state of holiness is galling. Has there ever been a more egregious example of thievery, deceit and compulsive dishonesty than the recording industry? No. Certainly members of Led Zeppelin needed to have acknowledged sources and originators of their music, and paid them for it. Something the music industry has systematically failed to do for more than 100 years. To say that every lyric, melody, lick, and so forth, has its origins in what came before belongs is unimportant in the context of a totalizing entity rather than the public domain is an insult. Let's celebrate innovation while knowing that what came before was influential, and owing allegiance to corporate ownership greed. The claim that laws tailored by the industry for the industry are somehow sacrosanct is baloney. Copyright in its present form must be undone, its never-ending exclusivity rights, along with the criminalization of 'average joes' over sampling or home recording. Enough of this holier than thou carp that some artist has stolen this or that from some corporate interest of investors. Stop the real crime of stifling innovation, creativity and freedom of expression (1st Amendment) and go back the original Constitutional copyright language. By the way, what's your band called, The Sales Figures; Dewey, Cheatum and How? GL Charpied

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

  43. identicon
    GL Charpied, 17 Sep 2018 @ 8:15pm

    Copyright, schmopyright

    Aram Sinnreich, Your descent from the empyrean heights of corporate arrogance impels you to pretend that copyright laws aren't anything more than fixing the market, biasing it for those with the gold (who make the rules), and managing a monopoly to exclude competition, much less originality. A corporate position, by the way, that fosters some notion of 'divine righteousness' to claim a state of holiness is galling. Has there ever been a more egregious example of thievery, deceit and compulsive dishonesty than the recording industry? No. Certainly members of Led Zeppelin needed to have acknowledged sources and originators of their music, and paid them for it. Something the music industry has systematically failed to do for more than 100 years. To say that every lyric, melody, lick, and so forth, has its origins in what came before belongs is unimportant in the context of a totalizing entity rather than the public domain is an insult. Let's celebrate innovation while knowing that what came before was influential, and owing allegiance to corporate ownership greed. The claim that laws tailored by the industry for the industry are somehow sacrosanct is baloney. Copyright in its present form must be undone, its never-ending exclusivity rights, along with the criminalization of 'average joes' over sampling or home recording. Enough of this holier than thou carp that some artist has stolen this or that from some corporate interest of investors. Stop the real crime of stifling innovation, creativity and freedom of expression (1st Amendment) and go back the original Constitutional copyright prerogative. What's your band called, the Sales Figures? GL Charpied

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

  44. identicon
    GL Charpied, 17 Sep 2018 @ 8:18pm

    Copyright, schmopyright

    Aram Sinnreich, Your descent from the empyrean heights of corporate arrogance impels you to pretend that copyright laws aren't little more than fixing the market, biasing it for those with the gold (who make the rules), and managing a monopoly to exclude competition. The corporate position that fosters some notion of 'divine righteousness' to claim a state of holiness is galling. Has there ever been a more egregious example of thievery, deceit and compulsive dishonesty than the recording industry? No. Certainly members of Led Zeppelin needed to have acknowledged sources and originators, and paid them for it. Something the music industry has systematically failed to do for more than 100 years. To say the every lyric, melody, novel tune, and so forth, has its origins in what came before belongs to a totalizing entity rather than the public domain is an insult. Let's celebrate innovation while knowing that what came before was its influence, but not corporate ownership greed. The claim that laws tailored by the industry for the industry are somehow sacrosanct is baloney. Copyright in its present form must be undone, along with its never-ending exclusivity, the criminalization of 'average joes' over sampling or home recording. Enough of this holier than thou carp that some artist has stolen this or that from some corporate interest of investors. Stop the real crime of stifling innovation, creativity and freedom of expression (1st Amendment) and go back the original Constitutional copyright prerogative. GL Charpied

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

  45. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:43am

    Re: Point/Counterpoint

    You say that like it's a bad thing. There's culture and there's commercialism. There are few things more ugly and superficial than a culture of commercialism.

    Yes, they ought to credit those whose work inspires them but remember, they inspire others too. Let's not bury culture in a shroud of ungranted permission.

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

  46. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:51am

    Re: Borrowing is evil

    Regarding copyright laws, every element of a published song needs to be original or valid licensing must exists.

    No such thing, buddy.

    This means the practise where you mix&match other people's songs without permission is illegal practise.

    At what point does someone own the words "baby" and "love" such that no one else can use them without permission?

    There are however few exceptions where I would allow it: 1) if the author accidentally clones existing song after listening other works -- but even this becomes illegal once the level of professionalism gets higher -- basically professional artists shouldn't listen other people's songs

    Take a remedial English class, please. None of this makes sense. Every artist, professional or otherwise, has listened to someone else's music at some point.

    2) Usage of standard sample packs is acceptable, and substantial similarity checks cannot be used for that area, if both of the compared songs are using standard sample packs

    I had one of those last week but the wheels came off. What in the world is a standard sample pack?

    3) If the cloned part is common practise in the genre or only small variation of such practises -- i.e. if the practise is governed by some rules which cannot be broken when creating new works

    Sampling is common practice in music, as is riffing off of other people's work.

    4) if something restrict's the artist's freedom to choose the elements of the work. For example if non-professional client of the band requests certain theme song to be used.

    The artist's freedom is already being restricted by these rules of yours.

    On the other hand, here's some clearly illegal practises: a) cloning existing work by listening the work and simultaniously writing down notes to sheet of paper b) ripping or recording samples from existing songs c) mixing&matching of song elements from old songs

    Not illegal at all. Licensing requirements depend on the copyright status of the works in question and parodies are allowed. Remixes, etc., happen and nobody has gone to prison for it yet.

    But the level of illegality should be evaluated based on how much effort it takes to create the copied elements. If the effort amount is low or the elements copied are not essential to the song's popularity, it isn't that big deal.

    "Sweat of the brow" is not a valid argument in terms of compensating creators for their intellectual output. Go and read up on copyright law before barfing your fact-free opinions, please.

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

  47. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 18 Sep 2018 @ 6:00am

    Re: A different planet...

    Some covers are more popular than their predecessors due to the quality of the production values and the singers' interpretations of the songs. I preferred the Wet Wet Wet version of "Love is all around" to the Sixties original.

    Ditto The Damned's orchestral version of "Eloise."

    Listen to them back to back and let me know if you agree or not. I'd be interested to learn why. Personally, I loved the epic feel of the cover versions while I found the originals lightweight in comparison, if that makes sense.

    What other artists (including producers and sound engineers, let's not forget them) bring to the musical table is a style and feel that wasn't there before.

    I didn't like the Pet Shop Boys version of "Always on my mind" for the same reasons I liked "Eloise" and "Love is all around": it sounded flippant and throwaway while the original Willie Nelson version sounded thoughtful and had an epic feel to it.

    This is, of course, entirely subjective but my point is that when anyone covers a song, for better or for worse, they add a little something of their own to it, which makes that added part original, even if the lyrics and arrangements are not.

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

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Point/Counterpoint

    You can't handwave plagiarism by saying "b-b-but culture!".

    The question is not whether or not they took inspiration from other artists and music, or whether or not they covered songs. The question is did they properly attribute credit in those cases, and the answer is a flat-out no, no they did not. In songs that were nothing more than a cover, they would often completely omit the original artist attribution, and it happened far too often for it to be just an innocent mistake.

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

  49. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Another View

    It's also worth noting that among their works that they did not credit the original artists was non-blues stuff like "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". It wasn't just a case of them being inspired by blues artists or any kind of racial thing, it was just a case of them being crap about properly attributing their sources.

    It is true that their covers were often really, really good, as someone made the point about how people generally knew a lot of music was covered. But it doesn't make it right. I suppose part of the backlash is not necessarily against Led Zeppelin, but rather the industry of the time that didn't know or care about the artists who had originally created the songs...

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

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Sep 2018 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Another View

    In the case of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", apparently they where fans of Joan Baez and they had covered her album version, where she also had not credited the song properly to the original author, Anne Bredon (who is receiving royalties now including back-payments).

    So I don't think necessarily Led Zeppelin set out to be the bad guys and I think they genuinely wanted to show tribute to the original works, but the paperwork behind the album for attribution was poor and did not properly credit the artists. This might've just been a product of its time; with the advent of the internet, lesser known artists are much more easily researchable and information disseminates more readily.

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

  51. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Sep 2018 @ 2:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Point/Counterpoint

    I agree that credit ought to be attributed but this applies to everyone all the way back to the Ark.

    We're all inspired by somebody or something.

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

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Point/Counterpoint

    I don't understand what a fictional mythological event has to do with this.

    The point is that in that era of music there was a very real problem of people not getting credit for their original music, and lazy attribution. Nobody needs to ask permission to cover music or be inspired by it, but credit should be given where credit is due.

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

  53. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2018 @ 12:31am

    Re: Here we go again.

    I have misused nothing. The article was race baiting and you are quoting a wiki on a definition.

    Why don't you quote a dictionary instead?

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

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2018 @ 12:32am

    Re: Here we go again.

    I have misused nothing. The article was race baiting and you are quoting a wiki on a definition.

    Why don't you quote a dictionary instead?

    You quoting a political charged source on the definition of racism and telling me I misused it as akin to a discussion of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 while quoting InfoWars.

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

  55. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Sep 2018 @ 8:27pm

    I have misused nothing.

    Nah, fam, you did.

    1. “Race baiting”, as you used it, fits the first definition of the verb form as I laid it out: You use it to deflect, rather than discuss, criticism regarding the historical appropriation of Black music by White musicians who subsequently made it more popular to wider (read: Whiter) audiences. If the idea of that appropriation (or criticism of it) upsets you so, explain why and argue your case without the bullshit.

    2. “Dog whistle politics”, as you used it, is factually incorrect. In this context, “dog whistles” are loaded words and phrases used as substitutes for potentially inflammatory language in derogatory contexts (e.g., “globalist” instead of “Jew”). The passage you mentioned did not contain any “dog whistles”. Its language and its meaning were both clear as day.

    If you intended to use those terms in ways I have not outlined, that sucks for you. Execution overrides intent. Learn the real meanings of those phrases, then come back to this discussion when you have figured out how to use those terms correctly, how you want discuss the appropriation of Black music by White musicians, or both. Otherwise, honey, you may as well fuck off from whence you came—I have no time to weep for the ignorant.

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


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