Folk singer sues over Led Zepp song of debatable origin

By | Published on Wednesday 30 June 2010

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has been landed with a copyright infringement lawsuit with regards the band’s song ‘Dazed & Confused’.

The origins of the 1969 Led Zepp track have long been debated, because of its links to an earlier song by folk singer Jake Holmes. It is generally accepted, I think, that Page did start with a copy of Holmes track when he started work devising ‘Dazed & Confused’, initially as a Yardbirds project, and later for Led Zepp.

By the time Page had finished devising the song, and Led Zepp had recorded it, everyone involved seemed to think the guitarist had created a new piece of work in which a new copyright existed, ie a copyright owned by Page not Holmes. The song was registered with US collecting society ASCAP as a new song penned by Page.

Nevertheless, musos have debated whether Led Zepp had, in fact, recorded a new song or, rather, covered Holmes’ folk original, for years. The debate has resulted in a particularly active Wikipedia entry for the song, with different contributors taking different viewpoints on the relationship between the Holmes song and the Page song.

Anyway, forty years later Holmes, for some unknown reason, has suddenly decided Page did, in fact, nick his song back in 1968, and in doing so infringed his copyright. And, according to TMZ, he has filed an infringement lawsuit against the Led Zepp guitar man.

The fact Holmes has waited forty years to take legal action shouldn’t, in theory, damage his case, though it will mean that if he wins he will only be able to claim some or all of the revenues generated by the Led Zepp song from the last three years.

Page is yet to respond.