The copyright infringement lawsuit over Led Zeppelin's signature song, “Stairway To Heaven,” is now in the hands of the jury as both sides presented closing arguments in a Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday.
The suit – brought by Randy California's estate and members of Spirit by trustee Michael Skidmore – claims the acoustic introduction to 1971’s “Stairway” was lifted from their 1968 instrumental, “Taurus.”
Courthouse News Service reports Skidmore's attorney Francis Malofiy asked jurors to award California a one-third songwriting credit and its accompanying financial rewards to the song alongside Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Malofiy asked the jury to award an amount in damages that is somewhere between the $58.5 million in recent gross revenue for music that included Led Zeppelin's 87-song catalog, and close to $7 million in revenue from "Stairway" alone – while the defendants held firm that the figure was closer to to $800,000.
Zeppelin attorney Peter Anderson said that Skidmore had failed to show that any member of Led Zeppelin had ever heard "Taurus."
He explained that music experts had testified that the introductions to both songs in question use a commonplace descending chromatic line that has "existed for hundreds of years" and is evident in numerous 21st Century pop songs including "My Funny Valentine" and The Beatles' "Michelle."
"I don't have to say [California] copied it from 'Michelle.' It belongs to everyone. It's a musical device," said Anderson.
The trial saw Page, Plant and non-defendant John Paul Jones take the stand to address their history and the song’s creation.
Jurors began deliberating on Wednesday morning after judge Gary Klausner delivered jury instructions.
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