Led Zeppelin’s six-year legal battle over Stairway To Heaven is finally over, with the US Supreme Court deciding it will not pursue the copyright claim.
The six-year-long court battle began in 2014 after the legendary band was accused of stealing the opening portion of Stairway to Heaven from the lesser-known song Taurus by Spirit.
The case was filed by Michael Skidmore, who acts as a trustee for Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Calfornia.
Stairway to Heaven, which is revered as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, made $3.4million (£2.6m) in the five year period at the issue of the trial.
The two bands had toured together early in their careers, and while a jury decided that Led Zeppelin may have had access to Taurus, released in 1968, before Stairway To Heaven’s 1971 release, it ruled that the two tunes were not substantially similar.
It was argued in court that the opening riff, the main section up for discussion, was similar to many other songs, including Mary Poppin’s Chim Chim Cher-ee. However, the jury was never allowed to listen to Taurus during the trial.
After Led Zeppelin initially won the case in 2016, an appeal was launched two years later due to ‘erroneous jury instructions’.
However, in March of this year, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled that Zeppelin was not guilty of copyright. This left the case only one more appeal with the highest court.
The US Supreme Court has now upheld the March ruling, which effectively ends the legal avenues for Skidmore.
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”.’
In the original trial, Spirit’s bassist Mark Andes testified that he met Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant at a show in 1970, where they performed Taurus, and played snooker with him afterwards.
Plant insisted he had no memory of the night, and partially attributed his lack of memory to a bad car crash on his way home where both he and his wife suffered head injuries in the accident.
Guitarist Jimmy Page also testified he had been unaware of Spirit’s song until comparisons of the two were brought up online in the early 2010s.
He said: ‘I knew I had never heard that before. It was totally alien to me.’
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Credit: Original article published here.