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Led Zeppelin Sued for Copyright Infringement of Song “Stairway to Heaven”

A lawsuit filed on May 31 in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania claims that the Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven” was not original.

According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed by the estate of late musician Randy California against the surviving members of the band and its record label. The lawsuit claims that the song was taken from the single “Taurus,” which was performed by the band Spirit. California was the lead guitarist for the band in the 1960s.

“Late in 1968, a then new band named Led Zeppelin began touring in the United States, opening for Spirit,” the suit states. “It was during this time that Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, grew familiar with ‘Taurus’ and the rest of Spirit’s catalog. Page stated in interviews that he found Spirit to be ‘very good’ and that the band’s performances struck him ‘on an emotional level.’”

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A cause of action for the lawsuit is listed as “Falsification of Rock N’ Roll History.”

The lawsuit states that “Parts of ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ instantly recognizable to the music fans across the world, sound almost identical to significant portions of ‘Taurus.’”

The estate of California is asking for court ordered damages and writing credit for the musician, who was born Randy Craig Wolfe.

Defense of this lawsuit comes from an interview between California and Listener Magazine back in 1997.

“Well, if you listen to the two songs, you can make your own judgment,” the lawsuit quotes the interview. “It’s an exact … I’d say it was a rip-off. And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said, ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’ It’s kind of a sore point with me.”

Francis Malofiy is the attorney for the estate of California. Malofiy spoke with CNN prior the filing of the lawsuit that Page “looked to Randy California and Spirit as someone who inspired him. Justice is available to those who can afford it,” Malofiy said, “It’s very very hard for a musician who’s struggling just to keep a roof over his head … to actually go about and fight some of the biggest giants in the music and entertainment industry.”

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