Led Zeppelin Face Copyright Trial Over Legendary Riff
Led Zeppelin founders Robert Plant and Jimmy Page will be forced to face trial following a copyright dispute over their song Stairway to Heaven.
A Los Angeles district judge said he feels there are enough similarities between Zep’s iconic tune and an instrumental piece by the band Spirit, reports the BBC.
The action for copyright infringement has been brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe.
According to Mr Skidmore’s lawsuit, Wolfe had complained about the similarity between the two songs not long before he drowned in 1997 while attempting to rescue his son.
However, Plant and Page say that Wolfe was a songwriter for hire and, therefore, had no claim to copyright, reports Yahoo News.
Spirit played on the same bill as Led Zeppelin in the 1960s, and it is now being claimed by Mr Skidmore that ‘Stairway’ came about after the band heard Spirit perform their instrumental track Taurus when the bands toured together in 1968 and 1969.
U.S district judge Gary Klausner said a jury could find ‘substantial’ similarity between the first two minutes of Stairway and Taurus.
A descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention in the music industry, [but] the similarities here transcend this core structure.
What remains is a subjective assessment of the ‘concept and feel’ of two works… a task no more suitable for a judge than for a jury.
The trial has been scheduled for May 10th, so we’ll just have to wait and see…