Led Zeppelin Stars Face ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Copyright Trial
(Reuters) – Led Zeppelin‘s lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page should face a D.J. jury trial over whether or not they stole opening chords for his or her 1971 basic “Stairway to Heaven.”
In a choice on Friday, D.R. District Judge Gary Klausner in Los Angeles stated “Stairway” and the 1967 instrumental “Taurus” by the band Spirit have been comparable sufficient to let a jury determine whether or not Plant and Page have been answerable for copyright infringement.
A trial is scheduled for May 10.
The lawsuit was introduced by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, also called Randy California, who was Spirit’s guitarist and the composer of “Taurus.” (Check out the :forty four mark under.)
Skidmore stated Page might have been impressed to write down “Stairway” for Led Zeppelin after listening to Spirit carry out “Taurus” whereas the bands toured collectively in 1968 and 1969, however that Wolfe by no means received credit score.
The defendants stated Wolfe was a songwriter-for-rent who had no copyright declare, and that the chord progressions have been so clichéd that they didn’t deserve copyright safety.
But the decide stated a jury might discover “substantial” similarity between the primary two minutes of “Stairway” and “Taurus,” which he called “arguably probably the most recognizable and essential segments” of the songs.
“While it’s true that a descending chromatic 4-chord development is a standard conference that abounds within the music business, the similarities right here transcend this core construction,” Klausner wrote. “What stays is a subjective evaluation of the ‘idea and really feel’ of two works … a activity no extra appropriate for a decide than for a jury.”
Klausner dismissed claims towards Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Warner Music Group Corp.
He additionally stated the trustee can get solely 50 % of any damages awarded, citing a 1967 contract that Wolfe signed.
“This case, from our perspective, has all the time been about giving credit score the place credit score was due, and now we get to proper that incorrect,” Francis Malofiy, a lawyer for Skidmore, stated by telephone.
A lawyer for the defendants didn’t instantly reply on Monday to requests for remark.
According to the grievance, Wolfe complained concerning the similarities of the songs in an interview shortly earlier than he drowned in 1997 within the Pacific Ocean whereas trying to rescue his son.
“Stairway to Heaven” is a monitor on Led Zeppelin‘s untitled fourth studio album, also known as “Led Zeppelin IV.”
The case is Skidmore v Led Zeppelin et al, D.R. District Court, Central District of California, No. 15-03462.
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