New Development in Stairway To Heaven Plagiarism Lawsuit
Solicitors representing the estate of Randy Wolfe – aka Randy California – say they are willing to settle their copyright infringement case against Led Zeppelin for one single dollar. The catch is to give California a writer's credit on what is arguably the most famous rock song ever written. “It's always been about giving credit where credit is due” says the attorney representing California's estate.
Royalties on Stairway To Heaven would be worth millions. The estate says that whatever windfall they might get they would use to support The Randy California Project which supplies musical lessons and instruments to low-income schools in Ventura County, near Los Angeles.
They argue that Randy California wrote a song called Taurus, recorded by his band Spirit, which Jimmy Page and Robert Plant copied in the opening of Stairway To Heaven. Lawyers for Zeppelin say that any similarities between the songs is limited to a musical structure that has been used for centuries and is too commonplace to be entitled to copyright protection.
There was talk that Page and Plant would have to testify at the upcoming trial, but for the time being it doesn't look like that will happen.
Although it is a very fine line, I'm not so sure there is case here against Zeppelin. But it will depend on solicitors' arguments in the end. The trouble I can see is Led Zeppelin have a track record of plagiarism and have been taken to court several times and have lost (notably to Willie Dixon). So with that in mind, and the millions of dollars at stake, I'm sure Page and Plant are very nervous as to what may develop in this latest case against them.
Off Rock contributor Mike Lang has been involved in rock radio all his life. And can play Stairway To Heaven. @theemikelang