Sunday, September 30, 2018

New plagiarism lawsuit about "Stairway To Heaven"

Randy California, a member of Spirit, a psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles, always pointed out that the riff in the intro of the 1971 rock hit "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin has similarities with the band's instrumental piece "Taurus" that he had written in 1966 and released in 1968. But Randy California never had the money to file a lawsuit against Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the Led Zeppelin members who wrote "Stairway To Heaven". He died in 1997 while swimming in the sea with his son in a rip current after saving his son's life.

Finally Randy California's trustee Michael Skidmore prompted Jimmy Page and Robert Plant before a US district court in 2016. He wants to achieve that Randy California will be credited as one of the authors of "Stairway To Heaven" so that his heirs get some of the royalties. It is estimated that the heirs would get around 40 million US dollars. Although Robert Plant visited a Spirit concert in 1970 on which, he says, he did not listen to the music but was drinking at the bar, the Led Zeppelin members won the lawsuit because the court stated substantial differences between the two songs.

An appeal court in San Francisco just ordered a new trial about this case because the judge in the first court misinformed the jury about the copyright protection of short sequences of tones. Another problem was that the judge did not introduce the original recordings of Spirit and Led Zeppelin but only considered the sheet music which was played anew for the lawsuit.


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