The next time you play your “homage” to “Stairway to Heaven” to a crowd of annoyed music fans, know that you’re not ripping off Led Zeppelin — you’re ripping off Led Zeppelin ripping off Spirit. That’s at least what a lawyer preparing an injunction against the rock icons claims.
“It’s been a long time coming,” attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy said. Malofiy represents a songwriting trust for the late Randy California, guitarist for the band Spirit. According to California and his supporters, the opening of “Stairway to Heaven” copies from Taurus, an instrumental track that appeared on Spirit’s eponymous 1968 debut album.
Now, as Led Zeppelin move to release remastered versions of their original albums, including a cleaned-up version of Stairway to Heaven, Malofiy is readying a copyright infringement suit and an injunction that would block Led Zeppelin IV’s reissue. “The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on Stairway to Heaven,” he said. Although the United States does have a three-year statute of limitations on copyright infringement cases, this is usually interpreted as a limitation on royalties: Spirit could seek royalties from recent sales.
Experts have valued “Stairway to Heaven” at more than…$10 million per year. (Via)
If/when this case is thrown out of court, I hope the judge says, “DENIED.”
Compare the two songs below.