I was reading this article about Led Zeppelin, well not really about them but about this case in which they were involved. Long story short Led Zeppelin – Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – wrote song “Stairway to Heaven” and this song has an instrumental piece played on guitar at the beginning and that is what the case was about. This instrumental piece is said to be similar to part of song “Taurus” from group called Spirit. Led Zeppelin won and they do not have to pay any modescendants of Randy Wolfe who wrote “Taurus” in 1967.
But that is not what I wanted to say. You can decide for yourself if you think that yes Led Zeppelin stole the part of song or if you think they did not. This article I read made me think about one thing – where does “being inspired” ends and “being plagiarist” starts?
Art is something that is hard to grasp. And plagiarism is hard to proof because here we are speaking about originality and ideas and thoughts something that you have in your mind and no one can see it until you paint it, write it or sing it.
Say that there are two people. Both of them are inspired by the same things and both write music, lyrics or book or poem at the exact same time but one has maybe more luck when publishing it because he or she quickly finds a publisher for it. The second however has to wait a little longer to publish it. But who is the plagiarist? The second? Even thought he or she wrote the same thing at the same time and has it written in his or her diary or laptop with the exact date. Is the person plagiarist just because he or she was a bit late?
Maybe this was a bit easy example or something but just think about it.To whom does the thought belongs more? Or does it even belong to someone ? It is similar to putting a price tag on an art piece. How do we determine to whome it belongs or how much we should pay for it?
This kind of possession is hard to determine because it is nothing you can take in your hands, touch it. How can we decide who is the original author and who is plagiarist? Until what moment are you still just a being inspired and when you become plagiarist?
Nowadays you hear quite a lot about these issues and it seems like it happens much more then it did in past, but maybe it is the fact that we have these laws or maybe it is the fact that news and things, even art or book or music, are much easier to share so you can let world know what you did. But this might make proving the author even harder.
And even harder it is to be completely original. There is high chance that the tune that appears for 3 secodns in your favorite song was already created and used by someone else. Or that someone wrote similar words you read in your favorite book or that you see similarity in lyrics of two songs. So it it even possible to be original?
But I am really happy that Led Zeppelin was not labeled as plagiarist cause they are one of the icons of modern music and it would be pity to have had another icon shattered.