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Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Plagiarism Lawsuit Set to Begin

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

After years of legal maneuvering, a lawsuit filed on behalf of deceased Spirit founder Randy California against Led Zeppelin co-founders Jimmy Page and Robert Plant is finally about to have its day in court.

The trial is scheduled to begin today in Los Angeles, where attorneys representing California’s estate are expected to argue that Page and Plant plagiarized the Spirit song “Taurus” while writing Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Although the two have steadfastly denied the allegations, the similarities between the two songs have long been noted, with California himself commenting on it before his death in 1997.

“Well, if you listen to the two songs, you can make your own judgment. It’s an exact … I’d say it was a ripoff,” he argued. “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.”

That point will now be argued before a judge, with Page and Plant both scheduled to be in attendance. Though neither are expected to testify in person, they’ve both taped deposition for the trial. The other surviving former Zeppelin member, John Paul Jones, has been excluded from the case.

NME reports that the proceedings, which the judge has insisted will be brief, will include testimony from musicologist Lawrence Ferrera. Ferrara’s participation comes over the objections of the California estate’s attorneys, who argued that he should be excluded due to his previous employment by Led Zeppelin’s publisher, who’d hired him to analyze any potential similarities between the songs.

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