Led Zeppelin Could Settle Its 'Stairway to Heaven' Copyright Trial For Just $1
But of course, there's a catch...
On May 10, a California jury will begin to deliberate whether Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” unfairly borrowed from an instrumental track that came three years before it. Apparently, lawyers representing L.A. rockers Spirit are willing to settle their case for the seemingly low price of one American dollar.
But of course, there’s a catch. In such an agreement, Bloomberg reports that Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would have to give songwriting credit to Spirit’s Randy California on the legendary 1971 track. Obviously, this would amount to much more than $1 towards the late Spirit guitarist (real name Randy Wolfe), who died in 1997.
As the plaintiffs, Wolfe’s lawyers claim the famous opening of “Stairway” copies Spirit’s song “Taurus.” Zeppelin’s camp insists the alleged similarities come from a common musical ground that’s centuries-old, and therefore falls outside of copyright protection.
At any rate, Zeppelin’s team will have to weigh the $1 offer alongside a series of incremental victories leading up to the May 10 trial. Recently, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner decided the plaintiffs will not be able to present jurors with testimony involving Zeppelin’s wealth and drug usage nor persuade them with evidence falling outside the original 1967 copyright of “Taurus.”
For more, consult Billboard’s report on why the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit is hardly a sure thing, even if Zeppelin is going to trial.