Led Zeppelin To Get Hearing Over 'Stairway To Heaven' Lawsuit
(hennemusic) Led Zeppelin will return to a San Francisco, CA court this fall for a new hearing in the copyright infringement lawsuit over their 1971 anthem, "Stairway To Heaven."
Last November, the band filed an appeal over a September 2018 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to order a retrial by overturning a 2016 jury verdict that found that "Stairway" co-writers Robert Plant and Jimmy Page did not steal any original music from "Taurus", a 1968 track by the Los Angeles band Spirit.
"Taurus" was written by the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California, whose trust - represented by lawyer Michael Skidmore - initiated the original lawsuit.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, last fall's decision by the Appeals court to order a retrial in the case was based on their determination that U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner had wrongly instructed the jury to disregard any similarities between standard musical elements in the two songs, like a rising scale or a chord progression, because they are too common to be copyrighted.
Standard musical elements, when considered together, can be protected from unauthorized duplication when they have undergone changes or "selection and arrangement that may have rendered them original," Judge Richard Paez said in the 3-0 ruling.
Upon further review, the Appeals court voted on June 10 to set the retrial ruling aside and hold a new hearing before an 11-judge panel this September
Led Zeppelin's request for a rehearing, supported by other songwriters and music publishers, argued that allowing copyright protection for "commonplace elements" in composition would cause "widespread confusion" in the music business. Listen to both songs here.
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