The victory of Led Zeppelin is a sigh of relief to the representatives of the music industry and gives courage to those who considered it spurious accusations of plagiarism in the cases of music, starting from the protagonists of the last and most sensational that has seen the 2015 the victory of the heirs of Marvin Gaye on Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, the authors of the song Blurred Lines, which according to the judges plagiava the song to Gaye's " Got to give it up.
The court of appeal, the united states has in fact overturned the principle adopted up to now of “inverse proportionality” between the evidence of willingness to listen to a song and the ones of the similarity between two songs. In practice, in the 43 previous years was sufficient for the court gave that the author had been able to learn the song plagiata, and that the two songs were “substantially similar”. A rule that has for decades represented a thorn in the side of record labels, artists, and authors.
by Reversing this rule to the judgment on the Starway to Heaven, the court of appeal underlines how the principle of the availability of listening to a song has been put in crisis by the digital era and the advent of online streaming services like YouTube and Spotify that are available in every moment millions of songs. “We never intended the copyright as the protection of some note,” wrote the Court. “On the contrary, we have always maintained that “a sequence of four notes”, however, common in music is not an expression worthy of copyright in the case of a song”.
“The judges have made justice against a rule terrible,” said Ed McPherson, a lawyer who has worked alongside the defense of Led Zeppelin, for and on behalf of the association of authors, producers, and musicians. “Prior to the accusation of plagiarism was sufficient to show that an artist had been able to listen to a song and there was a vague resemblance, now you have to try”.
The verdict of the appeal is the last step in the legal battle began in 2014 on the initiative of the journalist Michael Skidmore and the heirs of the singer of the Spirit, Randy Wolfe. In the first instance, the Spirit had won, but the court of appeal in 2018 had reopened the case by establishing that the judge Gary Klausner had given wrong instructions to the jury.
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