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.


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  • Michael Monet on

    Not to be obnoxious, I made a point that nobody cares about SPIRIT, the band and you while defending them actually referred to them as the song’s title TAURUS. If the song’s writer is long deceased then who is being compensated? This isn’t about recognition. This is about the worst kind of greed. Every time somebody dies there is a line around the corner of people looking to cash in. A lawyer is looking to make a living suing LED ZEPPELIN. What was that riff worth prior to STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN’S success? I hate the fact that greedy people with their lawyers are trying to destroy the purity of the success of others. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN has thrilled and inspired the world for nearly 50 years, leave it alone. Do we really need lawyers undermining the experience of listening to arguably the best song ever? Stop being cynical.

    • Dana on

      Thank you, Michael,

      I corrected my mistake, and yours, it should be “their lawyers” not “there lawyers.”

      Also, I agree with you, as I despise greedy attorneys, as well.

      Additionally, if the band, nor their heirs, have nor been duly compensated in a timely fashion, I acknowledge, that at some point (maybe within 15 years?), the issue should be moot.

      D 🙂

  • robert davenport on

    when this first came to my attention I listened to both songs one after the other and just did it again before my repy & I have to say I hear the Taurus riff in stairway, its pretty much the same riff – I think jimmy has some splainin’ to do……..

  • Michael Monet on

    I just downloaded WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS by GVF, great ZEPPELIN rip off with a hint of SAXON. Anyhow, just think the best ball players aren’t in the hall of fame because of steroids. 2 guys in KISS are supposed to other people. Beloved statues are now symbols of racism. Matt Lauer is a sick motherf×÷ker. The world is divided between globalist and nationalists. Joe Paterno is not pure. Sunday football is a political event as opposed to a sporting event. Where does it end? Anybody watching this SUPREME COURT drama? With all of this and a lot more, I think we need STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN to be pure and free of controversy. I don’t think Page borrowed at all from the song TAURUS by SPIRIT. I just don’t hear it. Check out OUTLAW PETE by Springsteen and tell me what KISS song the Boss was listening to on the bus. That is stealing. Everybody calls KISS greedy bastards but Paul Stanley took it as a compliment. Good for you STARCHILD.

    • Dana on

      To each their own.

      Again I have owned Zeppelin material for over three decades, but I think they are the New England Patriots of music, all of their “wins” should come with an asterisk.

  • James K. on

    Everyone and their dogs have heard that song since it debuted in 1971. Why is it even allowed to file a lawsuit after that much time has passed. what about all those blues lines Zeppelin put in their old songs? When the great-great-great grandchildren of one of those old blues guys gonna come out of nowhere and sue? I still haven’t heard the Spirit song, but I’m going to now.

    Off subject, the lawsuit Maiden had to settle over “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was weird, just like this. One guy sued Maiden, they settled, then another guy sued, and they had to settle with him. In that case, I listened to that song and Steve Harris blatantly stole entire lines and music from it. It was very apparent in that case.

    • Doug R. on

      I haven’t heard of anyone accusing Zep (yet) of stealing their lyrics. But if the so-called “experts” feel Zep plagiarized Spirit’s and other artist’s music, (50 years later) I’m sure Zeppelin will pay up.
      Just what we need, another investigation…

    • Dana on


    • Doug R. on

      I’ve never really been a big fan of Lennon & McCartney, but to borrow a quote from The Beatles – “Let It Be.”
      Oh sh-t, I hope I don’t get sued now.

    • Dana on

      You shouldn’t, because you credited/sourced, them.

    • Doug R. on

      That’s true, Dana, but today, you never know. Everybody’s suing everybody over everything today, I mean hell, now you can get sued for sneezing too loud!

    • Dana on

      Yes, I cannot argue that we are living in times where frivolous lawsuits are a dime a dozen.

      However, I hyperlinked an article in this comment section, that proves this band has a history of doing this to more than one artist. So, even if they are victorious, in this particular case, it shows a pattern of behavior, that is all I am saying.

    • Doug R. on

      As I’ve said before, there are thousands of songs so similar, in so many ways, I’ve heard so many riffs and beats that are almost identical, exactly like other songs, where does it end? Of course Zep was heavily influenced by the blues, who wasn’t? (Except maybe for Black Sabbath) I know there are other Zeppelin songs that sound very similar to other artists, but I think they’re being targeted for and being used as an example of sampling, because they’re Led Zeppelin, and they’re very wealthy, and now all of a sudden (decades later) everybody wants a piece of their “Custard Pie!” Leave Led Zeppelin alone already, Ramble On!

  • RTunes68 on

    This entire lawsuit is ridiculous and would never have gotten this far or lasted this long if the jurors (or judge) had an iota of musical knowledge and how pop/rock music is structured. Stairway To Heaven’s intro is variations on an Am chord, a D chord, and an F chord – there are COUNTLESS other pop/rock songs with the same progression!!! If Zeppelin’s going to be found guilty for plagiarizing, it is going to set a dangerous precedent where the floodgates are going to open with everyone suing everyone else for the same offense.

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