Led Zeppelin Is Being Sued For Sampling “Stairway to Heaven” But Can Rappers Be Sued For A Sample Of A Sample?
(AllHipHop News) Yesterday the world learned that Led Zeppelin’s song, “Stairway To Heaven” is being accused of copyright infringement, as Rock and Roll legends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are headed to trial over one of their most popular songs.
According to Bloomberg.com, a lawsuit was brought to the doorsteps of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in 2014 on behalf of the late Randy California, Spirit’s guitar player and the composer of “Taurus.”
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner determined yesterday that a jury must decide if the legendary rockers sampled the original song “Taurus” recorded in 1969.
According to reports, Page asked Randy California to show him how to play “Taurus” in 1969 while on tour, leading Randy to believe that Page stole the song for “Stairway to Heaven.”
Other parts of the song in question include the bass line and the chord progression.
While the statute of limitations based on U.S. law is three years, that does not remove the possibility of old infringement claims and thus the case is going to trial.
Which leads to the question, who in Hip-Hop sampled Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and how will this affect them?
Could these artists owe royalties to Randy California as well for covering and sampling the song? Would the royalties just be redirected?
According to Donald Passman’s book, Everything You Need To Know About the Music Industry, which is widely regarded as the definitive music business text, “there are no hard and fast rules about how a track gets treated. It’s usually negotiated by the parties at the time, depending on their sense of who contributed what to the song and the muscle of the person creating the track.”
“In this case, the sample owner gets a piece of the publishing, and that has to come out of someone’s share. Its not a given that it all comes out of the track’s share – the person creating the track argues that it should come out of everybody’s earning on the theory that everyone benefits from use of the sample.”
“In some cases the person being sampled will seek to recover the infringer’s profits, which may be more than the fair market value of the usage.” The court can also demand that the sample owner is given statutory damages or there could be an injunction where the court prohibits the infringer from using the infringing work.
In the mean time, check out who in Hip-Hop sampled “Stairway to Heaven” below:
The Game – “Doctors Advocate”
Bizzy Bone – “Dear Layzie”
Mary J Blige – “Stairway To Heaven”
Kokane – “It Makes Me Wonder”
Lords of the Underground – “M.O.N.E.Y.”
Gramatik – “Stairway to Hip-Hop Heaven”