Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” Plagiarism Lawsuit: Appeal Struck Down
An appeals court has upheld a 2016 verdict which ruled that Led Zeppelin’s 1971 hit, “Stairway to Heaven,” did not plagiarize “Taurus,” a 1968 song by the band Spirit.
A quick refresher: Michael Skidmore, trustee of Spirit singer, guitarist and songwriter Randy “California” Wolfe’s estate, accused Zeppelin of biting their classic hit from Spirit. The case went to court, and after deliberating for five hours, the jury came out in favor of Zeppelin, claiming that they didn’t believe there was substantial evidence to prove that “Stairway” was a rip-off of “Taurus,” and that, having listened to the songs back to back thirty minutes before giving their verdict, they did not feel there were enough similarities to qualify it as copyright infringement on Zeppelin’s part.
Skidmore appealed the case, and a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided in 2018 that the original trial judge had made a series of errors, ordering a new hearing. In a 73-page ruling, the entirety of which you can read here, the judges decided to uphold the original decision and ruled that no plagiarism took place.
Presumably this will be the end of the case. While Spirit undoubtedly experienced a boost in popularity as a result of the attention given to this case, Skidmore and Wolfe’s estate are likely out hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of the protracted legal battle.
You can listen to a side-by-side comparison of both tracks in the single embed below to see what you think.
[via Ultimate Guitar]