Friday News: Led Zeppelin legal victory, beer & books, collecting, and Taylor Swift, Girl Detective
Led Zeppelin Wins ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Jury Trial – Led Zeppelin won a crucial victory in defending the legendary “Stairway to Heaven” from claims of copyright infringement on behalf of the 1968 Spirit song “Taurus.” The suit was particularly interesting because it was brought on behalf of songwriter Randy Wolfe’s estate, because Wolfe had never pursued such a claim during his lifetime. Wolfe died almost 20 years ago, but his trustee claimed an ownership interest in the composition, which allowed him to ultimately file suit against Plant and Page, who insisted that they never even heard “Taurus” before writing “Stairway.” Their attorneys also argued that “the chord progression in question was very common and had been in use for more than 300 years,” much like the reputation of common tropes in fiction (aka not every mimetic expression is plagiarism). Ultimately, the jury agreed:
The jury — eight California citizens — delivered its verdict that the plaintiff owned the copyright to “Taurus” and that Led Zeppelin members indeed heard it, but that there was no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements of “Taurus” and “Stairway.” The decision came after the jury took one last listen of both songs. Within a half hour of doing so, the jury had made up its mind.
If the multimillion-dollar “Blurred Lines” verdict showed that artists can cross the line in being inspired, this latest decision shows that for whatever similarities lay observers spot, there’s still ample room for artists to be cleared of song theft. – Hollywood Reporter and BBC News
Want a beer with your book? That may soon be an option at Barnes & Noble. – Oh, look: Barnes and Noble is going to test market beer and wine, “shareable, American-style food,” and even table service in some of its stores. Hey, Starbucks is trying it, so why not, right? So books, beer, and wings?
It’s not hard to see why Barnes & Noble would want to move in this direction. Consumers have been spending strongly on dining out, even as mall retailers and big-box stores have struggled to ring up sales. And a key part of Barnes & Noble’s strategy these days is to grow in categories outside of its core book business, which has long grappled with punishing competition from Amazon.com. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.) – Washington Post
In defense of book collecting – Who among us cannot relate to this state of affairs?
As of this writing there are 1,790 books in my apartment, some couple hundred in my campus office, and an unknown number floating about on loan to various friends and students. This represents a decrease of probably 20 percent from the height of my mania. Over the past few years, I have embarked on culling operations, boxing up hundreds of books and carting them to used bookstores. Spilling off shelves, piled in tottering stacks on every flat surface and a few angular ones, the books are snowing me under. . . .
When I ask myself why I collect books, I think of a review [Walter] Benjamin published in 1930 in which he imagines the writer as “a ragpicker, at daybreak, picking up rags of speech and verbal scraps with his stick and tossing them, grumbling and growling, a little drunk, into his cart.” It is always daybreak somewhere along my shelves. – Chicago Tribune
A Taylor Swift-Themed Detective Book Is Happening – Even as I shake my head, I am intrigued. Taylor Swift: Girl Detective and The Secrets of The Starbucks. Because who doesn’t want to read a “graphic novella” about “an out of work actress in New York City who finds threatening messages on her skinny mocha[s]”?
Why’d they choose Taylor Swift as the heroine? “Her publicity is focused more on her own derring-doishness and accomplishments than her sex appeal, much like a modern day Nancy Drew,” Kitty Curran tells TIME. “She also used to dress exactly like Nancy Drew, though now she looks maybe more like the updated 80s version.” In the story, Swift makes a mischievous face a lot, and Lorde serves as her muscle. “While Lorde is a badass, she is so ethereal and poetic in her ways that making her the tough one in the book just seemed hilarious to us. We also needed a good foil for the more poised, level-headed detective figure of Taylor Swift and she fit the bill perfectly,” Curran said. Someone should give these two a mystery award for nailing Lorde’s exasperated face. – TIME