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Led Zeppelin win six-year legal battle over ‘Stairway To Heaven’

Written by on 06/10/2020

Led Zeppelin’s six-year legal battle over ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is finally over

The US Supreme Court refused to take up the copyright case, which saw the legendary rockers accused of stealing part of their classic 1971 rock song from Spirit’s ‘Taurus’ by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the band’s late guitarist Randy California, in 2014.

The jury found that although Zeppelin did have access to ‘Taurus’, it was decided that the songs are not substantially similar.

The group – which was comprised of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham – won the case in 2016, but two years later, it was ruled that the original trial involved “erroneous jury instructions”, and a new trial was ordered.

However, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled that Zeppelin were not guilty of copyright.

The US Supreme Court upheld a March ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and this was the last opportunity for the case to be appealed.

Skidmore started the petition Law360 in August, which argued that “the [Ninth Circuit] opinion is a disaster for the creatives whose talent is often preyed upon. By the same token, it is a gift to the music industry and its attorneys – enthusiastically received – by a circuit whose own judge once observed: ‘Our circuit is the most hostile to copyright owners of all the circuits.’

“The ‘court of appeals for the Hollywood Circuit’ has finally given Hollywood exactly what it has always wanted: a copyright test which it cannot lose. Portending what is to come, in the days following the decision’s filing multiple major copyright rulings have already dramatically favoured industry defendants. The proverbial canary in the coal mine has died; it remains to be seen if the miners have noticed.”

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