Led Zeppelin Royalties Revealed in Jury Trial | Courthouse News Service
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Led Zeppelin Royalties Revealed in Jury Trial

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Led Zeppelin's total revenue for its entire catalog, including "Stairway to Heaven," since the summer of 2011 is $58.5 million, an expert in the high-profile copyright case said Friday.

The eye-popping number was revealed during the fourth day of a jury trial that is scheduled to end next week.

Music duo Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have been in court for each day of the closely watched trial.

Their presence has heightened interest in the case, with Led Zeppelin fans lining up each morning outside the Edward Roybal courthouse to secure a seat in U.S. District Judge Robert Gary Klausner's small courtroom.

The plaintiff in the case is former rock journalist Michael Skidmore. He sued the rock legends in 2014 as a trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, claiming that they had copied the two minute and 14-second guitar introduction for their classic song from Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California.

California, singer and guitarist for the progressive rock band Spirit, wrote the instrumental song at issue, "Taurus," in his late teens as a dedication to his then-girlfriend.

"Taurus" appeared a year after he wrote it on Spirit's 1968 debut album. Led Zeppelin included "Stairway to Heaven" as a track on their untitled 1971 album, better known as "Led Zeppelin IV."

Skidmore appeared on the stand on Thursday and concluded his testimony on Friday morning. His damages expert Michael Einhorn followed.

Einhorn said he had reviewed financial documents that Page and Plant handed over and concluded that "Stairway to Heaven" was part of a catalog of songs that had earned $58.5 million in the past five years.

His valuation of "Stairway to Heaven" revenue was based on a statutory period that began on May 31, 2011, three years before Skidmore filed suit, and included all revenue up until today.

According to the expert, record labels Atlantic and Rhino Entertainment had earned $13.5 million in gross revenues from the catalog, Page and Plant received $15 million from a deal they penned with Rhino and Atlantic, and while another $30 million in revenue came from publishing.

Page and Plant's attorney, Peter Anderson, objected to Einhorn's valuation because he said that the expert was relying on a publishing agreement created in 2008 that is outside the statute of limitations period.

Skidmore rested his case after Einhorn concluded his testimony.

The defense first called musicologist Lawrence Ferrara, who said that the descending chromatic bass line that forms the basis of Skidmore's claims was "generic" and "commonplace."

Anderson told jurors during his opening argument earlier this week that the section of the sheet music that was deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1967 cannot be protected under copyright law because it has existed for centuries and in several pop songs written before "Taurus," including the Beatles' "Michelle."

Ferrara was to continue his testimony Friday afternoon.

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