Musicians stealing songs. What are your thoughts?


hunter1801
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hunter1801
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03/03/2011 9:10 pm
I just came across this yesterday. Kind of disappointing to hear and find out about this, but realistically it's something that probably happens more often than you'd think. I knew about a couple, but not all of them. Basically it shows how some of the greatest bands have actually made their hits after taking them from OTHER bands or people.

What are everyone's thoughts on this article? Does it change your opinion about any of these bands in any way?

"The 5 Most Famous Musicians Who Are Thieving Bastards"

http://www.cracked.com/article_18500_the-5-most-famous-musicians-who-are-thieving-bastards.html
# 1
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03/03/2011 9:30 pm
Hey hunter1801,

Thanks for posting this. I couldn't believe Led Zeppelin was on there...

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RickBlacker
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03/03/2011 10:34 pm
I was listening to Mark and Brian (who syndicate out of LA), they were talking about Led Zep a month or so ago and how they ripped a bunch of songs.

I'm 43 years old. If I ever get good enough, get into a band that's good enough to have some hits, listen close cuz there will be a HEAVY 80's influence. Not saying I'd rip songs directly, but, there will be a huge influence. :D

Stealing With Pride!
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Razbo
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03/03/2011 10:46 pm
I've read about Zeppelin's case here and there. I could believe that the production companies had more to do with that than Zeppelin, but they probably would have gone for the gold anyway.

I mean, look at what they were trying to copywrite: traditional tunes known for hundreds of years by millions of people. Sounds like bean counters to me.

That said, I believe these days, it happens deliberately and often.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
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Jerry Dylan
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Jerry Dylan
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03/03/2011 11:22 pm
I've known about Zep for a while and i've tried to ignore it cause I love their music so much. Deep Purple really surprised me though!
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JonChorba
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JonChorba
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03/04/2011 12:30 am
I don't think that in all these cases the artists deliberately lifted ideas from someone else with the intention of passing it off as their own. This stuff just happens. After all, we all only get 12 notes to work with!

We can't help who, how, and when were influenced by and sometimes we dont even know we've done it. I know I've wrote many songs were months later I'm like "oh yeah that sounds EXACTLY like so and so"

"Bad artists copy. Great artists steal."
-- Pablo Picasso
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# 6
hunter1801
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hunter1801
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03/04/2011 2:33 am
Ya, there is definitely always going to be influence passed through your music when you write it out. These days you have to be really careful though since a lawsuit could really hurt you. I'm sure a lot of start up or early bands write songs based off others they already know. Next thing they realize it's a huge hit and they make it big. Realistically nobody would just take that song out of the CD now.

Fine line between coincidences and rip offs though. I'm sure were all aware of the Vanilla Ice scenario. He tried to defend his position because of 1 subtle difference.
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03/04/2011 11:25 am
I'd heard long ago that the first 4 bars or something like that had to be unique. Which would be why a lot of songs start with 4 bars of G or some other chord. Probably just an old wives' tale, though.

I agree with JonChorba. I've always wondered, with 12 notes, how anything could be written today that hadn't already been written sometime in the past. There's probably 10/7,000,000,000 on any given day writing the identical riffs. :D
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
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dougjt
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03/05/2011 1:40 am
I agree with Razbo and Jon similar sounding riffs and stuff but different songs and it's hard to write music without sounding similar to something. The only real complaint that wasn't mentioned for Metallica was the kill em cd which was mostly mustaine's stuff and it's very clear Dave wrote most of it.
# 9
froggy62
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03/06/2011 6:14 pm
In many interviews with many bands and artist I have heard the best form of flattery used. Many bands and artist over the years and yerars of music have rercorded others music with your own twist in thier own way or not. The blues is a very good example and Zepplin is a good example of that as well many of thier songs are based on old blues tune form long since dead guys. And seriously many of us have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of the liscensing and production of these recorded songs if it was really a problem there would be more law suites between artist than law suites betwen artists and Kazaa, Limewire, Napster, ect.
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hairbndrckr
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hairbndrckr
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03/07/2011 3:44 pm
Zepp stole tons of songs, and who really cares? Not I, because they rocked the **** out of them. If not for them, I probably wouldn't have heard some of them like, "The Lemon Song" and whatnot. Truthfully, the original artists should be bowing to their greatness and be flattered beyond belief that they would deem their songs worthy of "stealing".

Of course, I am not quite sure where the copyright act was in England at that time, or if "orphaned works" even existed, either.

But Mettalicash, Inc stealing gets my goat. That's just wrong on so many levels considering all the bull**** they dug up with the Napster deal. It's almost hypocritical.
So. If you throw a cat out of a car window, is it considered "kitty litter"?
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03/07/2011 4:56 pm
Originally Posted by: hairbndrckr
But Mettalicash, Inc stealing gets my goat. That's just wrong on so many levels considering all the bull**** they dug up with the Napster deal. It's almost hypocritical.


I'm not familiar with Mettalicash. I'll have to go search for it.
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sixpicker
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sixpicker
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03/08/2011 9:42 am
Hey gang,
Interesting article, and the fact that no credit was given to the actual writers on the Zep songs, does mean they were technically stolen. That is the fine line right there, look how many times some songs have been recorded by different artist in many genres. What makes the difference is that the writers get credit for the song they wrote.

This also happens in other genres, take for instance one of Britney Spears new singles. "Hold it against me" was the last part of a song by the country act the Bellamy brothers. Their hook was "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me." This song pretty much launched their career in the 70's, and after no response from Spears they are now suing her over this.

Being a songwriter for over 30 years with moderate success in Nashville. I stay informed on the copyright laws, and make sure my material is registered. I also keep a log of who I pitch songs to, and have a really good friend that specializes in these cases if ever I need him. They don't just look for similarities in the music, they also look for a trail so to speak of how the artist or producer got the song, or perhaps a better word would be the idea.

You can't copyright a hookline, you can only copyright the idea, and of course the lyrics and music. That article is informative about some groups, and artist, but it's also misleading too. I can't speak for the artists mentioned in the article, but most of the time it's a manager or someone in the camp that brings the song to the table. In most cases they don't mention where the idea came from, because they really want the kudos for finding the song.

This does still happen today too, I know of many cases, some still pending, so I can't go into details. This doesn't happen with reputable publishers though, as I said it's usually the manager, and in some cases a producer that may be misinformed because someone else wants credit for finding it. There are circumstances in any situation, and it's no different here. Most artist are not to blame, they actually just show up and record what they're told to record. There are many sides to the music business, and some of it is not pretty. Don't think that your favorite band is bunch of song thieves, in most cases they have no knowledge of where the song came from.

It was also mentioned that much of this stuff was traditional blues, this too is not entirely true. Music has evolved over centuries, and much of the old blues stuff came from old spiritual songs, folk ballads, and even so called mountain music. Bluegrass is a mix of Irish, and scottish fiddle tunes that have been passed down by generations for hundreds of years. Country was derived from that, and then rockabilly, rock, metal, thrash. It's so hard to label these, because sometimes it took several of these to make a new sound. This is my take on it, since I hear these influences in so much music today.

If a song is listed as traditional, it was written long ago, and in most cases the writers descendants are no longer living either. A copyright doesn't last forever, there's a limit on everything. Some of these songs are also listed as public domain. It's not that the writer isn't given credit, it's just that no one knows who actually wrote the song. I'm familiar with this because of my experience with bluegrass music, I've studied it for over 40 years now. I still hear that influence, among others in many styles of music today. It's a total mix now, and there are many more influences today, probably 4 times as many as when I was growing up. With the internet, and other media, they're much easier to access too.

This is just my opinion, you don't have to agree with me. This doesn't apply to classical music either, but that has been mixed in to much of todays music also. I wish we lived in a world where everyone was honest, and gave credit where credit is due. All we can do is be that way ourselves, and try to set an example for others to follow. That's what I do, and my conscience wouldn't let me take credit for someone elses creation.
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hrandersoniii
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03/21/2011 5:29 am
That had to be the BEST defense for inspiration yet! I just read thru this line and that was an AWESOME job!
I was telling something similar to that to my wife.. about how music has been around for thousands of years...
A man from England is exploring in the Jungles of Africa... he hears a drumbeat in the jungle... He finds it appealing! His main profession back in the civilized world is a music composer... when he goes home.. he writes an award winning orchestral composition! It's a hit!
A man in the audience finds that the composition is a great inspiration for his "Folk Song" and the drum beat finds a new home with the exception that it has a change of beat to it by a single note. And it then finds a new home and new name...
BEAUTIFUL! That is pretty much what the "Inspiration" is.
BUT, as for Vanilla Hack Ice.. that crap over the "Under Pressure" was bogus. That ONE single beat should NEVER have flown!
If you find inspiration be it from an artist, God, or even wound up getting it from "the Crossroads" Devil.. you should ALWAYS acknowledge where it came from... that would ONLY be the decent thing to have done.
Let it be known now.. if I should ever wind up doing cover songs and they hit popularity (ya right)... I would like to Acknowledge Led Zepplin, Metallica, The Black Eyed Peas, Brittany Spears etc :D

Howard the "Inspired"
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Jerry Dylan
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03/22/2011 7:47 pm
Maybe Led Zep did steal alot of blues songs and things, but they also made a lot of people find out about the blues.
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hunter1801
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03/23/2011 12:55 am
Originally Posted by: Jerry DylanMaybe Led Zep did steal alot of blues songs and things, but they also made a lot of people find out about the blues.


That is just a way to "justify" stealing the songs. Sure Zep is huge now and they inspired many bands, but back when they started, they were just a normal band that used songs from another band. It's easy to look at a huge band that everyone loves and say "Well I guess it's OK now considering how big this band is".

What about bands starting up now that are stealing songs? Do we give them the same leniency as Zep because they could "potentially" be big later? What if that same band, 20 years from now is HUGE and became the next big thing? Would be easier to look the other way then and justify it, but the fact still remains that the song was created and taken when the band wasn't big.

Kind of goes along with the idea that celebrities shouldn't receive any special treatment compared to everyone else. Can't be OK for Zep to steal a song, but not alright for a less known band to. I hold to the idea of giving credit where credit is due like some people have mentioned already. Sure you can take songs and use them. Music is all about just making anything that people can like (including yourself), but if you use someones idea knowingly, just acknowledge it.
# 16
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03/23/2011 11:36 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801
What about bands starting up now that are stealing songs? Do we give them the same leniency as Zep because they could "potentially" be big later? What if that same band, 20 years from now is HUGE and became the next big thing? Would be easier to look the other way then and justify it, but the fact still remains that the song was created and taken when the band wasn't big.

I don't think it is leniency. I think it was a little different back then. I think overall, we are more sophisticated today in the same sense the average grade schooler is (I would freaking hope) way more savvy than a counterpart from the 60's. I expect a) It was a blanket copywrite. b) the band probably wasn't even acutely aware of it. If at all. Seriously, have you read Hammer of the Gods? They don't seem to me dudes who - back then - were reading much of the fine print. :)

Today, imo, the average person has more savvy because music/musicians are just more prevalent than it was. Starter packs, overseas production, the PC, and lots of competition has made making music accessible to millions more than it was. As a result, there's more communication and awareness about the industry. Most people these days have immediate access to find out anything they need to, legal or otherwise. Community groups, forums, Wiki's, online guitar lessons.... These and other things have changed the social landscape of musical awareness.

Keep in mind, these were old, old songs known and played publicly for decades. I mean, I don't care how high they were, they can't have realistically been trying to steal songs right in front of everyone's eyes, right? It makes no sense that an overt theft like that would get past so many moral and legal gates. And like Judge Judy says, 'if it doesn't make sense, it isn't true'.

Lawsuits picked up a lot of speed since the 60's. If there were not circumstances making this speculation of theft untrue, how do they still have a pot left to pee in?

Has anyone ever read any actual quotes from any member of Led Zep regarding this?
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 17

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