Led Zeppelin accused of plagiarism, 40 years after the release of ‘Stairway to Heaven’

BY Colleen Shalby  May 20, 2014 at 3:53 PM EDT

The band Spirit claims that Led Zeppelin stole an instrumental piece of music from their single “Taurus” and used it for the opening of “Stairway to Heaven.”

More than 40 years after Led Zeppelin released their “Stairway to Heaven” single, the rock legends are being accused of plagiarism.

A lawyer representing the band Spirit’s late guitarist Randy California claims Zeppelin stole the intro for their iconic song from Spirit’s 1968 single “Taurus.” The goal is to prevent the June reissue of “Led Zeppelin IV,” and to ultimately give a writing credit to California.

California’s family and Spirit waited as long as they did to question the authorship of “Stairway” due to a lack of funds. As Rolling Stone reported, California “played sitar in an Indian restaurant in exchange for food” during the final years of his life.

After 40 years, wouldn’t the statute of limitations be done? According to The Guardian, “although the United States does have a three-year statute of limitations on copyright infringement cases, this is usually interpreted as a limitation on royalties.”

Meaning?

“Spirit could seek royalties from recent sales of Stairway to Heaven.”