Led Zeppelin Granted New Hearing In “Stairway To Heaven” Copyright Case

According to Associated Press, a federal appeals court have agreed to give Led Zeppelin a new hearing in the “Stairway To Heaven” copyright case. This news comes after the Ninth Circuit appeals court previously ruled to overturn the jury’s favorable verdict. For those unaware, the case was originally brought forward due to the similarities between “Stairway To Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus.”

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Led Zeppelin’s Attorneys Ask Ninth Circuit Appeals Court To Reconsider “Stairway To Heaven” Ruling

According to Law360, Led Zeppelin’s attorneys are trying to get the Ninth Circuit appeals court to reconsider their recent ruling to overturn the jury’s decision in the copyright infringement case involving “Stairway To Heaven.” That case was originally brought forward due to the similarities between the track and Spirit’s “Taurus.”

Led Zeppelin’s representatives are saying it could “cause jurors to find infringement just because the same unprotected elements are present, upsetting the ‘delicate balance'” between copyright protection and the freedom of music creators to employ common techniques and musical elements when composing music.”

The filing also adds that “if uncorrected,” the court’s conclusion will “allow a jury to find infringement based on very different uses of public domain material” leading to “widespread confusion in copyright cases in this circuit.”

Michael Skidmore, the trustee of “Taurus” songwriter Randy “California” Wolfe’s estate, brought forward the copyright claims more than four decades after “Stairway To Heaven” was released. When the case was originally taken to court, a Los Angeles jury ended up voting in favor of Led Zeppelin, after listening to both songs.

[via Blabbermouth]

Federal Appeals Court Orders New Trial In Copyright Case Over Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”

According to Variety, a federal appeals court has decided to overturn the jury’s decision in the copyright infringement case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.” The case was originally brought forward due to the similarities between the track and Spirit’s “Taurus.”

Michael Skidmore, the trustee of “Taurus” songwriter Randy “California” Wolfe’s estate, brought forward the claims more than four decades after “Stairway To Heaven” was released. When the case was taken to court, a Los Angeles jury ended up voting in favor of Led Zeppelin, after listening to both songs.

Skidmore then filed for appeal, which led to a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordering a new trial. Their decision was made based on the judge in the previous trial, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner , giving “instructions that failed to make clear that an arrangement of otherwise unprotectable elements in a song can be sufficiently original to merit copyright protection.”

Circuit Judge Richard A. Paez also said Klausner was wrong for not letting Skidmore’s attorney play “Taurus” while Jimmy Page was testifying.

Paez commented:

“Without a selection and arrangement instruction, the jury instructions severely undermined Skidmore’s argument for extrinsic similarity, which is exactly what the jury found lacking.”

“Given the probative value of the information and the relatively low risk of unfair prejudice, we conclude that the district court abused its discretion in excluding the evidence.”

Witch Mountain Stream Cover Of Spirit’s “Mechanical World”

Witch Mountain are streaming their cover of Spirit’s “Mechanical World,” via The Quietus. That track will appear on their new self-titled album, which will be released on May 25. Click the LINK to go to the stream.

Nathan Carson commented:

“As my Spirit LP collection grew, I played this song for [guitarist] Rob Wrong. He recognized the riff because it had been sampled in the Brother Ali song, ‘Sleepwalker’. That was cool because it meant we each had a connection to the song, from different angles.

We both thought ‘Mechanical World’ was classic, unique. So we played it for Justin and Kayla in the tour van, and they both latched onto it immediately. We especially liked hearing a woman sing these lyrics without changing the pronouns. That always freshens things up. Our arrangement is the same as the original, but tuned down a few steps to make it heavier.”

In the sixties, bands were always putting cover tunes on their albums. That’s something we’d never done before, but it felt right here.”

Tour Dates:

May 31 Seattle, WA North West Terror Fest
June 23 Portland, OR Star Theater
July 11 Sacramento, CA Blue Lamp
July 12 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
July 13 San Diego, CA Til Two
July 14 Los Angles, CA Lexington
July 15 Phoenix, AZ Club Red
July 16 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
July 18 Austin, TX Lost Well
July 19 Denton, TX Dan’s Silverleaf
July 20 Memphis, TN HiTone
July 21 Knoxville, TN Pilot Light
July 22 Atlanta, GA The Earl
July 23 Asheville, NC Mothlight
July 25 Chapel Hill, NC Cat’s Cradle
July 26 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
July 27 Baltimore, MD Metro
July 28 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie
July 29 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
July 31 Boston, MA Great Scott
August 1 Portland, ME Geno’s
August 2 Montreal, QC Vitrola
August 3 Ottawa, ON House of Targ
August 4 Toronto, ON Garrison
August 5 Buffalo, NY Mohawk
August 7 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlie’s
August 8 Chicago, IL Reggie’s
August 9 Omaha, NE Lookout Lounge
August 10 Denver, CO Hi-Dive
August 11 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge

Led Zeppelin Accused Of Plagiarism?

According to Rolling Stone, the band Spirit is suing Led Zeppelin due to similarities between “Stairway To Heaven” and Spirit’s song “Taurus.” Attorney Francis Alexander Molofiy, a lawyer representing deceased Spirit guitarist Randy California, claims the “Stairway To Heaven” intro was a rip off of “Taurus,” which was released three years earlier. He is also trying to prevent the reissue of Led Zeppelin IV, to “make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on “Stairway to Heaven,” because “it’s been a long time coming.” Spirit and California’s family claim the reason they waited so long to press charges is due to insufficient funds to hire lawyers.

Before California’s death, he did an interview with Listener Magazine and said the following:

“The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’ It’s kind of a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.”

As for the lawsuit, we will have to wait to see how it plays out.

(Image from Rolling Stone)

(Image from Rolling Stone)