Courts will hear appeal on Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway’
By Saige Miller on June 11, 2019
By Saige Miller
SAN FRANSISCO– Led Zeppelin is getting another chance to see if their music speaks for themselves.
A pool of 11 judges from the 9th U.S. Circut Court of Appeals decided Monday to rehash a prior copyright infringement involving one of Led Zeppelin’s most influential songs.
‘Stairway to Heaven’ stars Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were sued for copyright infringement over the song. The underground band Spirit accused Led Zeppelin of ripping off their instrumental track ‘Taurus.’ The instrumental was originally by Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Wolfe. Page said everything about ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is 100% original. In 2016, a Los Angles jury agreed with the rock band. Led Zeppelin found not guilty of copyright infringement, according to the Associated Press.
Now, the Court changed its mind. The Court decided on a 3-0 they would like to examine the legality of 2016 decision. In September 2018, three judges from the 9th Circut ruled the original trial judge provided “erroneous jury instructions.” Essentially, the first judge presiding over the case misled jurors about copyright law by saying, individual parts of a song, like notes, may not qualify under copyright protection. A combination of notes may be protected if they are substantially original.
Led Zeppelin’s lawyer asked for a larger judge panel to rehear the case. Their wish came true and an 11-judge panel will hear the case in September. Francis Malofiy, the lawyer representing Wolfe’s estate, said the court will consider if they should broaden copyright protection for ‘Taurus,’ according to Rollingstone.
Listen for yourself! Do you think Led Zeppelin copied Spirit’s song? Do you hear a resemblance?