I may be the only person in the world who didn’t know this song. As a kid record shopping at the SmithHaven Mall I would eye this one covetously because of the cover.
But yesterday, the band Spirit sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement. Here’s the song:
Yep, it sounds like Stairway, and there are millions of Youtube videos pointing that out. What seems to be happening here is that Jimmy Page has remastered the whole Led Zeppelin catalog and Spirit’s suit effectively holds that project hostage until it is resolved.
My first though was the Statue of Limitations. Surely that has expired for a song released in the 70s. It turns out that the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is three years, but Spirit could, if it won the suit, collect royalties for new issues of the song over the last three years. Stairway to Heaven, by the way, has earned on average $13M per year for the last 40 years. I’m sure some years were better than others, but that’s a lot of dough.
An attorney named Oliver Herzfeld tells the story over at Forbes, with his opinion about how it’s going to turn out. Looks like Randy California may get as wealthy as Willie Dixon. But what were these guys doing the last 40 years?