“Stairway to Heaven” Prompts Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

In the Florida music industry, it is not uncommon for artists to borrow from one another. However, in entertainment and music law, there is a fine line between borrowing and copyright infringement.

When someone creates a work that is arguably based on a copyrighted material, there is potential for a legal battle to be waged. For instance, the famous rock ‘n’ roll band Led Zeppelin has recently been named in a copyright infringement lawsuit, filed in federal court by the heirs of songwriter Randy Craig Wolfe. Wolfe, perhaps better known by the name Randy California, was a member of Spirit, a group whose 1968 opening act on tour was Led Zeppelin. The complaint alleges that Led Zeppelin’s famous song “Stairway to Heaven” was largely copied from Spirit’s song “Taurus.”

Wolfe’s heirs are requesting an order deeming Wolfe a co-writer of “Stairway to Heaven,” as well as profits made by the defendants and statutory and punitive damages.

Copyright law lends protection to original works of art by granting the copyright owner the exclusive right to reproduce, publicly display and distribute copies of a particular work of art. Additionally, the copyright owner is the only one with the right to create other works based on the protected work.

In the music and entertainment industry, ideas are what set one artist apart from others and what ultimately lead to success and stardom. As a result, it is imperative to instill safeguards against infringement of one’s ideas by others. Copyright law can be confusing and complicated as it often deals with intangibles that present complex legal issues. Florida entertainment lawyers can help navigate these issues and defend the legal rights of artists. Florida attorneys can not only help entertainers protect their own work, but can help fend off frivolous claims related to copyright infringement.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Here’s the Lawsuit Claiming Led Zeppelin Stole ‘Stairway to Heaven’,” Eriq Gardner, June 2, 2014

Barry Chase

Barry Chase, Esq., Senior Partner at ChaseLawyers®, is a distinguished figure in the realm of sports and entertainment law, offering Harvard-level representation that is both cost-sensitive and exceptional. An honors graduate of Yale College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School, Chase's illustrious career commenced at a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, now known as Wilmer Hale. Here, he honed his expertise in Communications and First Amendment law, representing media titans such as CBS, the Times-Mirror Company, and Time, Inc. in pivotal Federal Communications Commission (FCC) matters.

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