Sure, sue Led Zeppelin for playing the songs of the old blues boys. And sue a kindergarten teacher every time he reads from Swimmy or Go, Dog, Go to the class.
I mean, what exactly is the functional difference? In each case, it’s a professional essentially making money by providing a service the bulwark of which is the creation of the past. Technically, if a teacher were to be entirely integral, he should make up his OWN stories on the spot, pagan tales of clay formation making, or whatever.
In the song “Beautiful Struggle,” Talib Kweli says “Yo I speak at schools a lot cause they say I’m intelligent / Wrong it’s cause I’m dope if I was wack I’d be irrelevant.” It’s sort of the same thing with this Zeppelin thing, except for them it works AGAINST their favor, everybody getting on their cases for copying, when take a song like Eric Clapton’s “Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself).” It’s a Bo Diddley song. Clapton covers it, and presumably makes money on it. Why isn’t there an uproar about this? Because nobody LIKES Eric Clapton’s solo music, he has not outsold The Who, Jethro Tull and Yes worldwide, he is not a songwriter with enough moxie so as to develop a cult following the stature of Zeppelin’s. I’ve witnessed guys in this music history/performance class at IU Bloomington actually go on diatribes against Zeppelin, and then invite some “blues singer” up who not only plays an old song, and impresses the ladies in the process, but even mimics the dialect and mannerisms of the old blues boy while he’s at it! It’s like, well, good luck with that kid… not sure if you’re planning on selling that and reaching and inspiring an audience of millions with it, but if I were you I’d expect just a smidgen of cultural backlash and indignation, if you are.
To say that Zeppelin are unworthy of their royalties, and are artistically inauthentic, is to blatantly insult the human race. It’s to outright insult the grey masses, the umpteen fans that huddle to their shows, the teenagers that caused $50,000 in damages in Boston’s coliseum in 1975 (actual contemporary currency amount), it’s to say that despite this pantheon of fans, they have essentially achieved nothing. Takes one to know one.