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Judge Rules Against Led Zeppelin In First Round Of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Lawsuit

Led Zeppelin
Ron Sachs, Getty Images

A judge has denied Led Zeppelin‘s first attempt to defend a lawsuit claiming that ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was lifted from a song by Spirit called ‘Taurus.’ The ruling had nothing to do with the merits of the case, but rather a pre-trial motion to dismiss on the question of jurisdiction.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Led Zeppelin had challenged whether the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the suit was filed, had the right to rule on the case. “The individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at home here,” they argued.

However, Judge Juan Sanchez sided with the plaintiff, who, in an amendment to the lawsuit, said that the defendants “make millions of dollars from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by directly targeting this district for the exploitation of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ through CD sales, digital downloading, radio and television play, advertising, marketing, concert performances, other performances, licensing, and otherwise targeting resident individuals and businesses to profit off the exploitation of ‘Stairway to Heaven.’”

Earlier this year, the children of Spirit guitarist Randy California (born Randy Craig Wolfe) filed suit against Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement on the grounds that the opening riff from ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was appropriated from ‘Taurus.’ They are seeking monetary damages and co-writing credit. Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit in 1968, the year ‘Taurus’ was released.

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