Led Zeppelin has come out victorious once again in their long-running copyright battle over “Stairway To Heaven.” The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a jury’s verdict that the rock legends didn’t rip off Spirit’s 1968 track,“Taurus.”
The decision comes after the appellate court voted for do-over in 2016, only for the case to hit a few more road bumps. The panel has determined that copyright protection won’t be extended to just a few notes, particularly “a four-note sequence common in the music field” – a significant ruling when it comes to music industry standards.
The court held, “We have never extended copyright protection to just a few notes. Instead we have held that ‘a four-note sequence common in the music field’ is not the copyrightable expression in a song.”
This case began in 2014 when journalist Michael Skidmore filed suit on behalf of the estate of Randy Wolfe of Spirit. In 2016, a jury ruled in favor of Zeppelin. But an appeal was filed, and in 2018 a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case, claiming that Judge Gary Klausner had given the wrong jury instructions, and ordered a new trial.
Zeppelin’s attorneys then appealed, and for now, this case is dead -- and hopefully in heaven.
There’ve been a number of copyright suits in recent years, coinciding with the rise of streaming platforms. For example, the latest decision on Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” case directly contrasts with the court’s 2015 verdict that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Wiliams’ 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” infringed on Marvin Gaye’s 1977 classic “Got To Give It Up.”
Read more about the ruling HERE.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter