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Judge in Led Zeppelin Copyright Case Orders Case Will Not be dismissed

Written by Fozia Cheychi on 08 May 2015

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Randy California of the !960’s band Spirit launched legal proceedings a year ago in order to sue Led Zeppelin for alleged copyright infringement over the song “Stairway to Heaven” from the album Led Zeppelin IV.  It is alleged that the song in question infringes Spirit’s instrumental piece ‘Taurus’ which was released in their debut album in 1968.


Warner Music Group and he legal team representing the surviving Led Zeppelin Members namely Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones has requested the judge to either dismiss the case or to move it to transfer it to California.


In a bid to have the case transferred to California several witness statements and legal documents had been cited. It was noted that Sprit’s first record contract had been signed in California.  The lawyer for the trust of Spirit guitarist Randy California had however argued that in part as the three musicians had played the rock song at the 1985 Live-Aid famine relief in concert in Philadelphia, the case should be heard in Pennsylvania.


Potentially there are high financial stakes at play in this case. In 2008 it had been estimated that the 1971 hit ‘Stairway to Heaven’ had earned at least $562 million in both record sales and royalties. If Spirit is successful then award would be limited to the most recent earnings under a three year statute of limitations.


District Judge Sanchez said that in the interests of justice he declined to dismiss the suit. The improper venue for hearing the case could be rectified by sending the case to California In his order. In his Order he commented that the Led Zeppelin members were not subject to the jurisdiction in Pennsylvania partly due to the fact that they do not live there and further it does not appear that they have specifically targeted the district for selling their music. He further wrote in his order that due to the statute of limitations, the Live Aid concert was not a relevant issue. 

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