“Music that changed the law”

“Occasionally, a band or artist will be involved in a lawsuit so groundbreaking and important that it will set a precedent… Here are some of the songs or albums that helped move the law.” [Victor Li, ABA Journal]

3 Comments

  • Have any of these cases made music better? Or worse?

    • Yes.

  • Victor Li’s article was about music lawsuits that changed the law, and so necessarily omitted a curious incident of a dog that did not bark in the night-time. No lawsuit was ever filed, despite the double whammy that both music and lyrics were potentially subject to copyright infringement suits by two separate entities.

    In 1978, the band Little Roger and the Goosebumps released a 45 RPM record of their song Gilligan’s Island (Stairway), which set the lyrics of the TV sitcom theme song Gilligan’s Island to the music of Stairway to Heaven by the rock band Led Zeppelin.

    Led Zeppelin‘s management threatened a copyright infringement lawsuit, and demanded that all copies be destroyed. Little Roger simply withdrew unsold records from the market. Many original records remain in collector’s hands.

    But that’s not the end of the story.

    In 2000 the song was reissued as Stairway to Gilligan’s Island.

    In 2004, Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zeppelin said in a public interview that the song is his favorite cover of Stairway to Heaven.

    To the best of my knowledge, neither the composers of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, nor their estates, have ever even threatened lawsuits over use of the lyrics.

    You can hear and see an amusing video of Stairway to Gilligan’s Island here: