Copyright Law

Led Zeppelin wins 'Stairway' copyright case; losing lawyer sees 'obviously appealable issues'

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in 2012. Featureflash /

Federal jurors on Thursday found for Led Zeppelin in a copyright suit claiming the band had copied the beginning guitar riff of “Stairway to Heaven.”

Jurors found for Led Zeppelin after a weeklong trial, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), Courthouse News Service and THR, Esq report. The suit had claimed the ‘Stairway’ riff was copied from the song “Taurus” by the band Spirit. The trustee for the estate of late Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe had filed the suit.

Jurors found the plaintiff owned the copyright to Taurus, and Led Zeppelin members had heard the song, but there was no substantial similarity between the songs, THR, Esq. reports.

According to THR, Esq., one avenue for appeal is a ruling by U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner that barred jurors from hearing certain recordings of Taurus because the copyright covered only sheet music. Skidmore’s lawyer, Francis Malofiy, criticized that ruling after the jury verdict.

“We’re fighting with a foot stapled to the ground and an arm tied behind our back. It wasn’t a fair fight,” Malofiy said. There are “obviously appealable issues,” he added.

Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page had testified at the trial. Plant said they wrote the song while sitting by a fire at a country retreat in Hampshire, England. At one point, Plant was asked whether he remembered meeting Spirit band members at a place he frequented in England.

“I’ve no recollection of mostly anybody I’ve ever hung out with,” Plant said.

Related articles: “Judge allows infringement claim over Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ “ “Attorney in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ case asks to compel attendance from Led Zeppelin stars”

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