Led Zeppelin Copyright Case Allowed to Proceed to Trial
The stars of Led Zeppelin could be set for a reunion in court after a judge allowed a copyright claim against Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to go ahead. U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner ruled the rock group’s classic “Stairway To Heaven” has similar elements to “Taurus,” a 1967 instrumental, and there’s enough of an argument to let a jury decide whether Plant and Page were liable for copyright infringement.
The lawsuit was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, who composed “Taurus.” Skidmore claimed Page may have been inspired after hearing Wolfe, aka Randy California, perform “Taurus” while touring with him in the late 1960s. The defendants claimed Wolfe’s chord progressions were so common the song did not deserve copyright protection. But the judge disagreed in his ruling in Los Angeles on Friday, calling the similarity to the two songs “substantial.” “While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure,” Klausner wrote. “What remains is a subjective assessment of the ‘concept and feel’ of two works.” Klausner dismissed claims against Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Warner Music Group Corp. Skidmore’s lawyer Francis Malofiy is celebrating the judge’s decision, telling Reuters, “This case, from our perspective, has always been about giving credit where credit was due, and now we get to right that wrong.”