LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Latest on the copyright lawsuit involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” (all times local):
Led Zeppelin’s bassist said he was unfamiliar with the band Spirit as he testified in support of his bandmates in a copyright infringement trial in Los Angeles.
John Paul Jones said Friday that he never met the band Spirit or heard them play, and he didn’t own their albums.
The estate for Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Wolfe claims Led Zeppelin lifted a passage from his instrumental “Taurus” and incorporated it in “Stairway to Heaven.”
Jones, who is no longer a defendant in the suit, provided brief testimony to support Led Zeppelin songwriters Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Page has said he knew some of Spirit’s music and used some in a medley Zeppelin played in its earliest days. But Page says he never heard “Taurus” until comparisons with “Stairway” showed up online.
A music professor says Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has limited similarities to a piece written a few years earlier by a California songwriter.
Lawrence Ferrara testified Friday for Led Zeppelin at a trial where the British band’s songwriters are accused of violating the copyright to Spirit’s instrumental song “Taurus.”
The estate for Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Wolfe claims Led Zeppelin lifted a passage from the song and incorporated it in the well-known introduction to “Stairway.”
Experts for the plaintiffs say there are many similarities between the two, but Ferrara said the main similarity is shared with many songs dating back 300 years.
Ferrara, a professor at New York University, says the notable descending minor chord progression in both songs is a common building block that no writer can claim to own.
An economist has testified that Led Zeppelin works that include “Stairway to Heaven” had revenues of nearly $60 million over the past five years.
Michael Einhorn told jurors Friday in Los Angeles federal court that songwriters Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have received $58.5 million since 2011 for work that includes “Stairway,” their band’s most recognizable song.
Einhorn was the plaintiff’s final witness in a copyright infringement trial that alleges Led Zeppelin, Page and Plant lifted a passage from “Taurus” by the band Spirit. The estate of Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Wolfe says the artists incorporated the instrumental in the introduction to “Stairway.”
Under cross-examination, Einhorn said some of those revenues came from a 2008 contract that covered the band’s catalogue of 87 songs.
Led Zeppelin lawyers have contended the 2008 contract falls outside the statute of limitations and shouldn’t be considered.
This story has been corrected to show that the economist was the plaintiff’s final witness, not the “final plaintiff.”