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Copyright infringement huge topical focus in song battle

"And she's buying a stairway to heaven."

If you're a rock-and-roll fan, how long does it take for you to put that lyric into context and internally get the song Stairway to Heaven humming in your head?

That tune unquestionably resides along with a few other select songs atop the Mt. Olympus of rock, being an absolute monster for its enduring fame and the staggering revenues it has wrought.

We would ask readers interested in the stacks of money related to Led Zeppelin's signature tune to simply consider this: According to an estimate from 2008, sales and royalties for Stairway to Heaven had by that time reached about $562 million (and, of course, the proceeds would be far higher now).

So, the loosely-termed question "Who owns it?" is a very important query, with the answer having truly high-dollar implications.

Unsurprisingly, band members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant say that they wrote the song.

A trustee that oversees royalties for Randy California, a now deceased member of the once-popular rock group Spirit, counters that Zeppelin's members borrowed heavily from California, who authored a song called Taurus that was recorded several years prior to Stairway to Heaven and sounds strikingly similar to it.

He contends, in other words, that Led Zeppelin infringed California's intellectual property rights, with Stairway to Heaven being a massive copyright infringement of already protected artistic material.

The case is headed to trial in a federal court, with one media article focused upon it noting in a hugely understated way that, "The fight has potentially high stakes."

We'll be sure to let readers know how this tune ultimately plays out.

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