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Is Playing A Led Zeppelin Chord Progression On YouTube Copyright Infringement?

Screenshot of Rick Beato's
Screenshot of Rick Beato's "Why Today's Music Is So BORING. The Regression of Musical Innovation"
Rick Beato

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As of this week, music producer and YouTube star Rick Beato has 2.34 million subscribers who watch his deep dives into musical theory, often using examples from pop music. 

His videos are meant to be educational and analytical, but they are from time to time demonetized for copyright infringement. Most recently, Beato had a dispute with music publisher Warner Chappell Music, over a live streamed video called “Why Today's Music Is So BORING. The Regression of Musical Innovation,” in which he played a chord progression on his guitar of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” as an example of a complex chord progression. According to a follow-up YouTube video, Beato said that Warner Chappell Music made a copyright infringement claim, he appealed citing fair use and was rejected.

Then this morning, Beato got word that the claim was released.

We hold up a legal lens to the situation. What are the rules when it comes to copyright infringement and fair use in the world of music and educational YouTube videos?


Kelly Shapiro, founder and managing partner at the Law Offices of Kelly D. Shapiro, based in Santa Monica, Los Angeles 

Don Franzen, adjunct professor of business and music law at UCLA and visiting professor at Berklee School of Music; music and entertainment attorney based in Beverly Hills; he tweets @donfranzen