Copyright infringement claimed against anthem 'Stairway to Heaven'

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page wrote the arpeggio opening to "Stairway to Heaven" that a lawsuit claims was partially lifted from another band. (KABC)

One of the most iconic rock anthems of all time is under fire in a Los Angeles federal court, as Led Zeppelin faces claims that it lifted part of the opening melody of "Stairway to Heaven" from another band.

A lawsuit alleges that the guitar arpeggio opening the 1971 track from the band's fourth album was lifted from an instrumental titled "Taurus" released in 1968 by the long-defunct LA-based band Spirit.

The band's lead guitarist-songwriter, Randy California, had tried to sue years ago, but was told at the time it was too late. But a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has changed that.

California drowned in 1997 in Hawaii, but his estate filed a suit over the song in 2014 and has been granted a trial date next month.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner said lawyers would have no more than 10 hours per side to present their evidence. He indicated the trial, set for May 10, would last less than a week.

If any damages are collected, they would go to a trust set up in California's name that benefits music programs for school children in Ventura County.

Led Zeppelin's defense team declined comment outside the courtroom Monday.
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