LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Led Zeppelin's front man Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page must now face a jury trial in an alleged copyright infringement case over the band's seminal hit "Stairway to Heaven."
In a decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner in Los Angeles last week that the Led Zeppelin hit was similar enough to 1967 instrumental "Taurus" by the band Spirit to warrant a jury trial, Reuters reported.
The lawsuit was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, who performed as Randy California for the band Spirit. Skidmore contends that Page may have been inspired to write Stairway after hearing Spirit perform the track while the bands were on tour together in 1968 and 1969.
The defendants have argued that Wolfe was a songwriter-for-hire at the time and had no copyright claim to the music, noting that the chord progression was so common that it did not warrant copyright protection.
However, the judge disagreed with this assertion, writing in his ruling that there was a substantial similarity between the two songs.
"While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure," Klausner wrote. "What remains is a subjective assessment of the 'concept and feel' of two works."
A trial is scheduled for May 10. – Staff Writers