Led Zeppelin sued in PA over 6 notes in “Stairway to Heaven”

What would I do without Kevin Underhill and his Lowering the Bar? For one thing, I wouldn’t be sitting in my desk chair right now, Saturday afternoon, wondering why Led Zeppelin (they are British, right?) are (is?) being sued in a Pennsylvania court for stealing the first six notes of “Stairway to Heaven.” From a (dead) guy once named Randy California.

I’m sure some of you aficionados of…whatever one can be an aficionado of, when it comes to antique rock groups, will be fascinated by the complaint.

Me, I’m fascinated by the way Kevin Underhill introduces this complaint, using the proper legal term “jurisdiction.” (I’m not trying to one-up him–he is one of my gods–when I point out that I am using the proper legal term, [“dead”]):

Led Zeppelin Admits “Exceptional Talent,” Denies All Other Allegations

After somehow losing a challenge to jurisdiction in Pennsylvania, of all places, the members of Led Zeppelin have now filed an answer to the complaint alleging that they stole the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.” Most of the pleading is as dull as answers normally are, but part of it is amusing.

The complaint was filed last year by a trust representing the heirs of Randy California, a.k.a. Randy Craig Wolfe, who was the leader of a band called Spirit for which Led Zeppelin opened in 1968. The trust claims Zeppelin stole the iconic opening passage of “Stairway” from Spirit’s song “Taurus.” The passage of five or six descending notes starting at about the 1:37 mark of “Taurus” is kind of similar to the bass part (not the iconic opening notes denied  in “Wayne’s World,”) but hardly enough to justify an infringement claim, it seems to me.

The lawyers who wrote the complaint (via Hollywood Reporter) should get some credit for how it was drafted, though, because at least the format isn’t boring…

Although I gave up after the caption (it is colorful), if you guys really want to read one paragraph of the complaint and the answer to that paragraph, do continue at this link: Source: Lowering the Bar.

P.S. I tagged this  as “intellectual property lawsuit,” because I don’t know what else to call the first six notes of a rock song. Something less elevated than “intellectual property,” maybe. Copyright infringement?

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