The opening riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is going on trial.
The case centers around claims from a trustee of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, also known as Randy California, that “Stairway to Heaven” copies music from the Spirit song “Taurus.”
According to court documents acquired by the L.A. Times, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner determined Friday that lawyers for the trustee, Michael Skidmore, had provided enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial on May 10 and that, although the songs contain differences, lawyers may be able to prove substantial similarities.
“Taurus” appeared on Spirit’s eponymous first album in 1968 and was written by Wolfe in either 1966 or 1967. “Stairway to Heaven” was released by Led Zeppelin in 1971.
Klausner’s ruling also removed John Paul Jones, Super Hype Publishing, Inc. and Warner Music Group Corp. from the case, as none of the parties “performed or distributed ‘Stairway to Heaven’ within the three years preceding the instant action.” Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page remain as defendants.
The trial is the latest in a spate of copyright-infringement cases surrounding a hit song. In March 2015, Marvin Gaye’s children were awarded over $7 million after a jury found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had copied Gaye’s “Gotta Give it Up” in the process of creating their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.” A judge later reduced the judgment, and the verdict remains under appeal.
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