Trial set for ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright lawsuit

| Apr 26, 2016 | Trademark Law

It has been nearly three years since we last discussed the lawsuit against legendary rock band Led Zeppelin over “Stairway to Heaven,” so we forgive our readers if they became Dazed and Confused and assumed the case had long ago settled or reached a verdict.

But though it’s been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time since the plaintiff filed the lawsuit, the court is just now preparing to hear the copyright infringement case. Unless the parties settle soon, it will be up to the jury in a Los Angeles federal courtroom to determine if the opening riff to “Stairway” is an original, or if The Song Remains The Same as one recorded by the band Spirit in 1967.

As we discussed back in 2014, the estate of a deceased member of Spirit sued the surviving members of Led Zeppelin for infringing on the band’s copyright of its song “Taurus,” which the deceased musician wrote. The lawsuit alleges that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page lifted a portion of “Taurus” for the opening acoustic guitar portion of “Stairway,” which the band released in 1971.

As the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, trial has finally been scheduled for May 10. On Apr. 25, the federal judge presiding over the case set some ground rules. He ruled that the parties will get no more than 10 hours each to present their arguments. He also granted motions by the defense excluding evidence they argue would be irrelevant, including Led Zeppelin’s drug and alcohol use in the 1960s and ‘70s. It is unclear if Page or singer Robert Plant will appear to testify.

Protecting your copyright, or defending yourself against a threatened lawsuit after a Communication Breakdown, can involve complex litigation, but it need not be a Heartbreaker. Contact an intellectual property attorney to discuss your case and better understand your options.