Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Plagiarism: Not worth the risk (if you’re anyone but Led Zeppelin)

The good people at Indie-Scribable on plagiarism: Led Zeppelin got lucky!


Stairway_to_Heaven_-_20th_Anniversary_Commemorative_EditionMaybe you’ve heard that Led Zeppelin was in hot water over having, just maybe, stolen “Stairway to Heaven” from a band called Spirit. Specifically their song, “Taurus.” Now, I’ve listened to both songs (so you don’t have to), and I must say it’s hard to get through “Stairway” at this late date. Anyway, my analysis (and the jury’s too, apparently) is that the only possible copyright infringement is in the opening chord progression. “Stairway” sounds quite a bit like “Taurus” (which came first, obviously), but it departs from the “Taurus” progression after a couple of bars. You could make the case that the two songs are similar, but I don’t think outright theft is going on here. In fact, “Stairway” really is a much better song.

I bring this up because it’s a lot easier to make the case against plagiarism in writing, and that’s a sin you don’t want…

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2 comments on “Plagiarism: Not worth the risk (if you’re anyone but Led Zeppelin)

  1. S.K. Nicholls
    July 7, 2016

    Art copies art. I used to get annoyed at Dean Koontz books because the early seem like Stephen King remakes with the names changed. He may have just been learning from the man. I have a character described in one of my books the same way another (very different but similar) character is described in another book I read. It was the method of the character description, not the exact words, but it was a method I liked. That’s not overt plagiarism, but could be seen as such by some.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 7, 2016

      True, I don’t think copyright applies to method. But I guess you need to be careful when the words used are too close for comfort.

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This entry was posted on July 7, 2016 by in Publishing.
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