Here's a fun little game called "The Dazed and Confused Payoff Game."
To play it, first go find yourself a Led Zeppelin bootleg with a 35-minute live version of "Dazed and Confused."
The Seattle '73 version would do.
After each minute of the song passes, take one dollar out of your hand and place it on the table. If what you just heard for the past minute was written by anyone in Led Zeppelin, the dollar goes on your side of the table. If what you just heard for the past minute was written by Jake Holmes, the dollar goes on the opposite side of the table. You are the judge.
If you are stuck on which party wrote the music you just heard for the last minute, or if you think it might have been a part written by Jake Holmes but amended significantly by anyone in Led Zeppelin, then the dollar goes in the center of the table between the two stacks, to be divided evenly when the music's over. This is where that dollar's worth of change might come in handy.
When the music's over, count up the amount of money in each pile and compare. Which pile has more money? You'll probably be sitting right in front of it. Led Zeppelin always wins!
And that, kiddies, is how you play "The Dazed and Confused Payoff Game." Have you had fun?
Oh, you'd prefer the adult version? The drinking game is played with a friend. One of you will be Jake Holmes, and the other will represent Led Zeppelin. Every time a minute's worth of Jake's composition is heard, Jake takes a drink. Every time it's a minute's worth of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin takes a drink. Every time it's a minute worth of both, social!!!
In the end, Led Zeppelin can always drink Jake Holmes under the table. Did you ever have any doubts about that?
Played properly (and in moderation), this game should serve as a long way of concluding that, over the course of 35 minutes, probably a maximum of three minutes' worth of the song was written at all by Jake Holmes.
Furthermore, in my judgment, even those three minutes of his material were amended significantly by at least one member of Led Zeppelin, both musically and lyrically.
So, Jake Holmes is suing Jimmy Page and other defendants over alleged copyright infringement on "Dazed and Confused." He's got a point, if he's talking about a few minutes' worth of stuff and only a part of the whole. What he's suggesting isn't unprecedented, that Led Zeppelin used a previously existing song as a starting point for something original and didn't see fit to credit the author of the starting point.
At this point, let's switch gears and think of "Bring It On Home," the closing track on Led Zeppelin II. The song opens with a direct quote from another "Bring It On Home," a song written by Willie Dixon but famous for being performed by Sonny Boy Williamson. Robert Plant's even doing his best Sonny Boy imitation on both the vocals and harmonica. Jimmy Page is all over that guitar part, too.
If you didn't know that, check the back cover of How the West Was Won. Or watch the credits feature on Led Zeppelin DVD sometime. It says it right there: This version of "Bring It On Home" written by Willie Dixon incorporates "Bring It On Back" by John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Good for them!
The track ends with another brief quote of "Bring It On Home" as a tagline.
Now that this has been proven to work, they've established a model by which "Dazed and Confused" can be properly credited to its respective authors.
In "Dazed and Confused," only the sections near the beginning and end are anything like the Jake Holmes composition. Led Zeppelin plays so much more that's original and ought to be credited as such to Jimmy Page, if not also Robert Plant and/or John Paul Jones and/or John Bonham. The attorneys may be able to make a legal distinction between the Jake Holmes portions and the Led Zeppelin portions, and the Led Zeppelin portions could be retitled.
"Bring It On Back" sets the precedent. They could call the de facto Led Zeppelin composition "The Meat and Potatoes." The title is irrelevant. The point is Jake Holmes wrote a portion of what Led Zeppelin played for six minutes and 26 seconds on their debut album, but didn't write another portion of it. When that portion he didn't write was expanded to over a half an hour onstage, he still didn't write that either.
Holmes deserves credit, absolutely -- just not for everything. Make a legal distinction, give to Jake what is Jake's, and all will be well with the world.