Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were reunited in a Los Angeles federal courtroom on Friday as the copyright infringment trial over the band’s “Stairway To Heaven” ran through its fourth day.
Courthouse News Service reports Jones, who was dismissed as a defendant in the case earlier this year, took the stand to testify in the case over the potential similarities between the group’s 1971 signature song and a 1968 instrumental named “Taurus” by the group Spirit.
Under questioning by Page and Plant's attorney Peter Anderson, the bassist said he did not recall playing shows on the same bill as Spirit back in the day, did not own any music by the band and did not recall ever meeting guitarist Randy California (Wolfe), whose estate trustee, Michael Skidmore, is seeking compensation on behalf of the late songwriter in the case.
Skidmore's damages expert, economist Michael Einhorn, testified earlier in the day that Zeppelin’s catalog of songs had generated $58.5 million in revenue in the past five years. The group’s attorney objected to Einhorn's valuation because he said that the expert was relying on a publishing agreement created in 2008 that is outside the statute of limitations period.
The plaintiffs rested their case after Einhorn concluded his testimony.
The defense called musicologist Lawrence Ferrara, who dissected and performed both songs in question on a keyboard while explaining similarities that he referred to as “generic” and “commonplace.”
Both tunes share a “descending chromatic minor line,” which he said has been in use by composers for more than 300 years.
“It’s a musical building block,” Ferrara testified, adding “not a relevant similarity.”
The trial, which is expected to conclude next week, resumes on Tuesday, June 21.
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