Led Zeppelin is seeking an expressway to victory in its “Stairway to Heaven” trial.
Lawyers for the group, which is accused of ripping off another song in writing its 1971 classic “Stairway to Heaven,” have asked judge R. Gary Klausner to rule in their favor, claiming the plaintiff, who rested on Friday, failed to make his case.
The group is being sued by Michael Skidmore, trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust. Skidmore asserts that “Stairway” infringes on the 1968 Spirit song “Taurus,” written by Spirit frontman Wolfe (stage name: Randy California).
Skidmore says that Zeppelin would have been familiar with “Taurus,” as the group played a handful of early gigs with Spirit. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has stated that he never heard the song “Taurus” until a couple of years ago, though he did admit having the album on which it appears in his record collection.
While an eight-member jury has been assembled to issue a verdict, court papers filed Monday by Zeppelin’s lawyers ask Klausner to enter judgment in the group’s favor.
“Plaintiff rested and failed to carry his burden of proof on multiple issues,” a motion filed in federal court in California states. Accordingly, judgment should be entered in defendants’ favor. At a minimum, judgment should be entered in their favor on plaintiff’s claims for actual damages and for profits.
Among Team Zep’s contentions: That Skidmore does not hold the copyright for “Taurus” and couldn’t prove that Zeppelin saw Spirit perform live, despite having shared concert bills.
“There is, in short, no evidence that Led Zeppelin was present when Spirit performed,” the motion reads.
They also contend that the testimony from Skidmore’s attorneys was “fatally flawed,” since they did not disregard commonplace elements between the two songs.