Final court ruling today against Mick Skidmore’s attempt to claim Stairway To Heaven was copied from Randy California’s Spirit instrumental Taurus. This has been going on for years. California didn’t want to go to court over it. It wasn’t an issue for him. But after he died Skidmore has been trying to make a buck out of it “for the estate”. Yeah, ri-ight. The legal costs must be e-NOR-mous.
There are wider ramifications, of course. Musicians won’t be so keen to try to sue for copyright over chord sequences or melodies they claim to have created.
George Harrison should never have been sued for My Sweet Lord. Traditional folk music copied and appropriated melodies, classical composers used themes from folk music and each others work. Jazz musicians quote tunes in improvisation. Claiming a few notes as legally your personal property is crazy, a process invented to give work to lawyers, who have done very nicely out of the Skidmore/Stairway business.