Led Zeppelin Appeal Stairway To Heaven Retrial Ruling
(hennemusic) Led Zeppelin have filed an appeal over a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that overturned a 2016 jury verdict that found that the iconic UK band did not steal any original music from "Taurus", a 1968 track by the Los Angeles band Spirit.
In September, the federal appeals court determined that parts of the jury instructions in that jury trial were erroneous and prejudicial, stating that the original judge erred by telling the jury that common musical elements, such as "descending chromatic scales, arpeggios or short sequences of three notes," were not protected by copyright.
According to Law 360, Led Zeppelin's representatives submitted a request on October 26 asking the court to reconsider the decision by a three-judge panel to send the case back to trial, saying the ruling threatens to improperly extend protection to collections of public domain elements that shouldn't be covered by copyright law.
"At best, the decision will cause confusion and unpredictability throughout the circuit," writes Led Zeppelin's legal team. "At worst, it will cause jurors to find infringement just because the same unprotected elements are present, upsetting the 'delicate balance' between protecting authors of original material and the freedom to use public domain elements."
"Taurus" was written by the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California, whose trust brought the copyright infringement lawsuit.
Michael Skidmore, the trustee for Wolfe, has said that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page may have been inspired to write 1971's "Stairway" after hearing Spirit perform "Taurus" while the bands toured together in 1968 and 1969.
The two-week trial in 2016 saw Page, Plant and non-defendant John Paul Jones take the stand to deny exposure to "Taurus" while explaining the creation of "Stairway" at Headley Grange. Read more here.
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