Tool, Korn + More Join in Defending Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit
With the Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven" case to be reheard this fall, a couple of fellow musicians have decided to give their two cents. Digital Music News reports that Tool and Korn join Sean Lennon, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the Songwriters of North America and over 120 other artists in defending Zeppelin in the lawsuit.
To give a brief background on the case, it started a few years ago when Led Zeppelin were being sued for copying the opening riff of Spirit's song "Taurus" for the beginning of "Stairway to Heaven." Zeppelin and guitarist Jimmy Page won the lawsuit, but it resurfaced this past fall when a three-judge panel at the San Francisco court of appeals deemed that the original jurors had not been instructed on what music plagiarism actually is.
The case is to be reheard this September in San Francisco by a panel of 11 judges, and the parameters of plagiarism have been expanded. Now, individual notes and scales can be considered copyright infringement.
Tool and Korn are among 123 artists to submit a filing to be involved with the case. In an amicus filed at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, it reads "[We], whose music entertains and enriches the lives of countless people worldwide, will therefore undoubtedly be affected by…the outcome of this critically important case.”
It continues, "There was no evidence presented at the Led Zeppelin trial that the otherwise unprotected elements that appeared in ‘Taurus’ were presented in such an original pattern or compilation as to garner copyright protection.” The artists and organizations involved in this filing worry that ruling against Led Zeppelin will result in a mass of copyright lawsuits, threatening the future of creativity in music.
"Any artist who reads the opinion may very well fear that the (very common) use of any ‘descending chromatic scales, arpeggios or short sequences of three notes,’ or any elements in the ‘public domain,’ could form the basis of an infringement action.”
We'll see what happens next month when the new decision is made.
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