‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright case: Led Zeppelin accused of ripping off song

LOS ANGELES – A trial is needed to determine if Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” copies its opening notes from a song performed by the rock band Spirit, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled Friday that lawyers for the trustee of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe had shown enough evidence to support a case that “Stairway to Heaven” copies music from the Spirit song “Taurus.”

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“Taurus” was written by Wolfe in either 1966 or 1967, years before Led Zeppelin released “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971. Klausner wrote that while the songs have some differences, lawyers for Wolfe’s trustee may be able to prove they are substantially similar.

WATCH: Did Led Zeppelin once rehearse in a Vancouver school gym?

Led Zeppelin and Spirit performed at some concerts and festivals around the same time, but not on the same stage. Klausner wrote that the evidence presented so far represented a circumstantial case that Led Zeppelin may have heard “Taurus” performed before “Stairway to Heaven” was created.

After-hours phone and email messages sent to Helene M. Freeman, Led Zeppelin’s attorney, were not immediately returned. Experts hired by the band contend both “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” use notes that have been used in music for centuries.

Francis Alexander Malofiy, attorney for Wolfe’s trustee Michael Skidmore, praised the ruling. He said while many copyright cases are an uphill battle, Klausner’s ruling brings his client one step closer to getting Wolfe credit for helping create one of the most recognizable song introductions in rock history.

READ MORE: Gene Simmons: “I am looking forward to the death of rap”

Skidmore was able to overcome statute-of-limitations hurdles to sue over “Stairway to Heaven” because the song was remastered and re-released in 2014.

A jury trial is scheduled for May 10 in Los Angeles. Klausner’s ruling removed Zeppelin band member John Paul Jones from the case. Bandmates Robert Plant and Jimmy Page remain defendants in the case.

Spirit’s song, “Taurus”

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”

A trial would represent the third time in recent months that a Los Angeles federal jury has heard a copyright-infringement case involving a hit song. In March 2015, a jury found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had copied a Marvin Gaye song to create their 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines” and awarded Gaye’s children $7.4 million. A judge trimmed the award, and the verdict is under appeal.

Later in the year, another jury was empaneled to determine whether the Jay-Z hit “Big Pimpin’” copied the work of an Egyptian composer, but a judge ruled in the rapper’s favour before deliberations began.

Led Zeppelin's Fan Distribution by Country | PrettyFamous

Strangers make dream wedding reality for Alberta woman battling cancer

Complete strangers are taking on the role of fairy godmothers to make a Vegreville, Alta. couple’s dream wedding come together in just six weeks.

Laurie Dirsa and Dean Elkow became engaged in October. They originally set a wedding date in August 2017, but then received some devastating news.

“On January 19, my world came crashing down,” Dirsa said. “The doctor told me I had a tumour – one that he’d never seen in the 200 colonoscopies he’d done, he’d never seen one like mine.”

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Dirsa was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer in January. Surgery to remove the tumour – which was the size of a baseball – was scheduled for June.

“Once you heal from that, there’s at least five months of chemo again, so life is kind of put on hold while I go through this.”

Her fiancé wanted to get married before the operation. He’d waited 47 years to meet his match and didn’t want to wait any longer.

“Sometimes you’ve got to wait a lifetime to find your special one,” Elkow said with a smile.

So, their wedding timeline was sped up… a lot.

The couple decided on a backyard ceremony and BBQ reception. It would be simple. Easy.

But that is not how the most important day of their lives was meant to be, at least according to a very special group of strangers.

When Dirsa turned to the web for advice on how to plan a wedding on short notice, people from all around the Capital Region stepped up.

They weren’t just offering advice, they were offering Dirsa and her fiancé a wedding day they’d never forget.

“I am overwhelmed, floored.

“Something that was going to be people bringing lawn chairs… is going to be a fairy tale wedding,” Dirsa said, her voice breaking. “It’s a dream come true.”

Complete strangers donated flowers, photography, a cake and decorations.

“I lost my mom in September due to cancer,” Shawna Murray, the owner of Knot Shop wedding rentals, said. “I thought there would be not a better person I would love to help to try to get through something like this.”

Murray will be taking care of linen rentals, centre pieces, table settings and bringing the wedding theme to life.

“I couldn’t think of a better way I’d like to spend May long weekend than helping her do this, set up and make her day perfect,” Murray added.

Erin Wildeboer read about the couple online and immediately wanted to help in some way.

“She was just looking for a great wedding dress. Every girl deserves to feel pretty. I thought my dress made me feel that way so I thought this is a great person that could use it.”

“If this was happening to me, I couldn’t imagine trying to come up with a wedding dress,” Wildeboer said. “She’s going through the worst time in her life right now, and … giving my dress was the least I could do.”

“To make her feel really good on her wedding day would be pretty worth it.”

Someone even donated a honeymoon.

“Because of his generosity and kindness, Dean and I get to go to Vancouver, where I’ve never been,” Dirsa said. “That was on my bucket list.”

In one year, the couple plans to celebrate their anniversary and Dirsa being a cancer survivor. They hope to invite everyone who helped create their wedding day.

“People I don’t even know,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some life-long friends out of this.”

Follow @Emily_Mertz

With files from Sarah Kraus, Global News

Disabled Edmonton veteran has to prove again his legs are still gone

EDMONTON- An Edmonton veteran is asking the federal government to streamline its processes so veterans don’t have to fill out as many forms to prove permanent disability.

Mast.- Cpl.  (Ret’d) Paul Franklin told Global News the pile of paperwork he has to fill out for different organizations on an annual basis is nearly a foot high.

“Every year I have to sign the forms, find the forms and write the forms saying I have no legs,” he said.

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    Franklin is a former medic who served in the Canadian Forces for 11 years. In 2006, he had just two weeks left in his six-month mission in Afghanistan when he became the victim of a suicide bomber.

    “My buddy Jeff yelled ‘car right,’ so I shifted left and he (suicide bomber) detonated his car,” Franklin said about the attack. “Boom! We get hit with 56 kilos of explosives.”

    READ MORE: ‘War Story’ series turns focus to Afghanistan ahead of Remembrance Day

    Franklin lost both of his legs in the attack and said the care he received afterwards was outstanding.

    “With my doctors and team, we changed everything,” the former medic beamed as he spoke about the progress that had been made while he was still in the military.

    Franklin retired in 2009 and the paperwork piled up.

    “You’d think a simple form you have to fill out every year… no problem.”

    But that’s not the case. The veteran said he has to go to the doctor and have him fill out pages of paperwork after being put through a series of physical tests. The amputee said he also has to fill out similar forms for different government departments and the insurance company Manulife.

    “There’s a lack of common sense. The organizations involved have to learn to start sharing information.”

    It’s about more than just one person as well. Franklin wants all veterans with permanent disabilities not to have to fill out the forms again and again.

    “They can send me a form that says ‘in the last year, has your medical condition changed?’” Franklin said, explaing that only if the answer is yes should someone have to go through the paperwork and doctor’s notes. If the answer is no, he wants it to be a simple process that just involves checking off a box, signing it and sending it in.

    PHOTO ABOVE: Canadian Master Corp. Paul Franklin with his physical therapist, Bev Agur, of Edmonton, Canada, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Franklin lost both legs above the knee while serving in Afghanistan in 2006. He was Canada’s first war amputee since the Korean War.
    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    In 2015, the veteran went public with his story. The minister of veterans affairs at the time, Erin O’Toole, promised Franklin he would only have to fill out the forms every three years, but Franklin said he’s back to filling them out annually.

    “The solutions are so easy and that’s why they aren’t being done,” the veteran said.

    There’s a new minister in charge now, since the Liberal party formed government and Veterans Affairs told Global News the issue in question falls under the Department of National Defence and Minister Harjit Sajjan, a veteran himself.

    READ MORE: Meet Harjit Sajjan: Canada’s new defence minister and Afghan combat veteran

    The Department of National Defence said the program in question is the Service Income Security Insurance Plan, where injured members are eligible to receive coverage.  In a statement, a spokesperson told Global News part of Minister Sajjan’s mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is bridging the gap with Veterans Affairs Canada to ensure Canadian Forces members and veterans get the care they need.

    “We are a new government with a new mandate and these issues won’t be solved overnight,” Sajjan’s press secretary, Jordan Owens, said in a statement.

    When asked about the annual forms and streamlining the process, the Department of National Defence said it’s an opportunity for them to flag any changes to a veteran’s condition “without leaving ill and injured members in a situation where they need to go out of their way to track down someone within the bureaucracy in order to get the assistance they need.”

    The Department of National Defence said an announcement would be coming soon regarding the issues faced by veterans when it comes to red tape.

Final cost of 2015 Alberta election almost $19M

EDMONTON – Alberta’s chief electoral officer says the final cost of the 2015 provincial election was almost $19 million.

Glen Resler, in a report tabled Monday, said that’s a 28 per cent increase from the 2012 campaign.

He said costs went up due in part to Alberta’s 10 per cent population increase and because then-premier Jim Prentice decided to drop the writ a year early.

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    “We had the challenge of recruiting, hiring, and training returning officers and election clerks on short notice as a result of the snap election call,” wrote Resler.

    “Several staff were brought in from outside (the boundaries of some constituencies) in order to deliver the election.”

    READ MORE: NDP stomps out 44-year PC dynasty, Jim Prentice resigns

    Resler said they also had to pay premium prices to rent spaces and lock down voting locations because schools and community halls were already booked.

    Alberta has legislation mandating elections in the spring every four years, but Prentice bypassed the law in 2015, saying his new economic plan demanded a mandate.

    Resler urged Premier Rachel Notley’s government to update the election laws to allow the electoral office to adapt better to the information age.

    He said the wording of the law as it stands “restricts the introduction of technology and product innovation.”

    He said one of two biggest complaints to his office from voters concerned unwanted calls from political parties.

    The second biggest complaint, he said, came from rural residents who were unable to call up voting location information online.

    Last May 5, voters overwhelmingly rejected Prentice and his Progressive Conservatives, voting in Notley and the NDP to end a PC dynasty that lasted almost 44 years.

    Notley has said she will honour the election law, which means the next vote will be held sometime in the spring of 2019.

MPs in Ottawa defend Tom Mulcair as NDP interim leader

Tom Mulcair lost a crucial vote of confidence this weekend at the NDP’s convention in Edmonton, you wouldn’t know it on Parliament Hill Monday.

NDP MPs coming back to work in Ottawa expressed support for Mulcair’s offer to stay on until a new leader is chosen.

“I think Tom was a very elegant and classy act to say, ‘OK, well if you want me to stay, I’ll stay,’” Quebec MP Pierre Nantel said.

Other colleagues got personal.

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“One of the things I was really excited about as a new MP was to get to see Tom live in the House of Commons, [putting] those skills to work,” rookie parliamentarian Daniel Blaikie said. “I won’t speak for all of caucus, but he has my support.”

READ MORE: Who will replace Tom Mulcair as NDP leader? It could be a crowded field

Randall Garrison wasn’t sure Mulcair had full caucus support but defended him nonetheless.

“He has my full support, as he did at the convention, and I think it’ll be a very valuable role that he’s got to play,” he said.

Ontario MP Charlie Angus is also defending Mulcair as interim leader, but said he understands why Mulcair lost the confidence of delegates over the weekend.

“They just didn’t see Tom working the crowd, being part of the discussions, hanging out with people,” Angus told Global News in an interview at his Ottawa office. “By the time Sunday came, people thought well maybe we aren’t all going down the same road.”

Though Angus refused to back Mulcair before the convention, his thoughts are with him now.

“Politics is – wow,” he said. “It always seems great when you win, but when you don’t win man there’s nothing more brutal, and Tom was gracious Sunday.”

READ MORE: Thoughtless and tone deaf: Notley on Leap Manifesto

During the convention, the party voted to extend the deadline for a leadership convention to two years.

But, new party president Marit Stiles says it can happen faster than that.

“We want to make sure all New Democrats across the country can participate fully and actively in the process,” Stiles said. “Having said that, I think that we all want to move quickly.”

The party’s Federal Council will be meeting in the coming weeks to determine the rules for the leadership race.