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Copyright ExpertsCopyright Experts will testify in the Central District of California infringement case over the Led Zeppelin recording Stairway to Heaven. The family of Randy Craig Wolfe alleges the rock band writers took part of the instrumental recording Taurus and used it in Stairway. Released in 1971 by Zeppelin, the song has produced millions of dollars of income. Led Zeppelin was formed in London in 1968. Estimates of their record sales range from 200M to 300M units worldwide.

Copyright is a complex area of intellectual property requiring an experienced and qualified copyright consultant.  Copyright experts testifying for the plaintiff will argue that the copying in question is clearly substantial.  Adversely, experts for Zeppelin will tell the court that the opening chords in Stairway do not constitute an infringement. U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner is presiding.

The U.S. Copyright Office answers the question: What Works Are Protected?

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

1) Literary works

2) Musical works, including any accompanying words

3) Dramatic works, including any accompanying music

4) Pantomimes and choreographic works

5) Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

6) Motion pictures and other audiovisual works

7) Sound recordings

8) Architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.

By:  Karen Olson

20+ years of experience in legal research