Gene Maddaus of Variety reports:

An appeals court on Friday vacated the jury verdict in the Stairway to Heaven copyright infringement case and ordered a new trial, finding that the district court judge gave faulty jury instructions.

The ruling reopens the battle over whether Led Zeppelin borrowed from the 1968 song Taurus when it composed the classic rock anthem that appears on the 1971 release Led Zeppelin IV.

Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, sued the band in 2014, arguing that Stairway to Heaven ripped off elements of Wolfe’s composition. Wolfe, Spirit’s frontman, died in 1997. A jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin in 2016, finding that the two songs were not substantially similar.

Skidmore appealed, and on Friday a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial. The panel found that U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner gave instructions that failed to make clear that an arrangement of otherwise unprotectable elements in a song can be sufficiently original to merit copyright protection.

Read more at Variety.


45 Responses

  1. Goodness, music is just too intangible to get in such a hissy fit over this stuff; really, Dana, if you keep finding these other songs that sound like other songs it would never end. Check out “The Last Time” by Russ Ballard and Journey’s “Who’s Cryin’ Now?” Anybody notice how similar “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” is to “All the Young Dudes”? and Russ Ballard is a genius, one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, he’s not a thief.

    Paul said that this where the chorus of I Was Made for Lovin’ You came from pretty much…this stuff is silly….just enjoy the music, appreciate that the artist was smart enough to be influenced by something that was really good and made it into something else.
    This Trustee over here wants his commission…lol…

  3. Priest pretty much re-wired “Born to Be Wild”; jacked up the tempo and attack; it’s the same verse riff and cadence, and then the dramatic intro to the choruses are also similar; added some prog parts and threw in the intro to “War Pigs” for the lead guitar break in the mid-section…..the Sinner!

    1. I never liked Sinner, so… 😉 (winky face).

      But in all seriousness, it seems, to me, they ripped themselves off more than anything. Sinner reminds me more of strange hybrid between Tyrant and Deceiver, both great songs.

    2. Notice how the chorus of Voodoo from Black Sabbath goes into Whole Lotta Love’s at the very end? 🙂

    3. Or how Motley Crue’s chorus of Looks That Kill sound like the end of Priest’s You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise or how the end of Crue’s Slice Of Your Pie sounds like the Beatles’ She’s So Heavy, etc., etc.

      Still doesn’t change my mind, because of the reasons I cited before.

    4. I get what you’re saying; there was a controversy in the 80’s over Kerry King telling the guys in Possessed he wanted to hear their demo and then those ideas ending up on Slayer’s record; it’s a fine line I guess but this suit here isn’t enough even to survive a summary judgment motion. (By the way, “Born to Be Wild” predates any Priest song, I just think this stuff is interesting, not wanting to argue with you).

    5. No, I get it, I have issues with both sides of the argument.

      I think filing a copyright lawsuit after 50 years, is ridiculous. Additionally, the issue of “plagiarism,” doesn’t sit right with me, either. Especially, when the band is considered one of the most iconic, and influential, in the rock genre.

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