Led Zeppelin Didn’t Lift “Stairway To Heaven” Riff, Appeals Court Rules

On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier jury verdict

Court Finds Led Zeppelin Didn't Lift "Stairway To Heaven" Riff
Led Zeppelin perform on stage during their 1972 American Tour. (Jeff Hochberg/Getty)
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In a ruling that was issued on Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict finding Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” did not infringe on the 1968 song “Taurus” by the band Spirit.

In a 2016 filing, a trustee for the songs of Spirit alleged Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant lifted substantial portions of “Taurus,” an instrumental, and used them for the opening riff of 1971’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

Led Zeppelin and Spirit did play live together at some point after “Taurus” was written, the BBC reports.

“We have never extended copyright protection to just a few notes,” the court held. “Instead we have held that ‘a four-note sequence common in the music field’ is not the copyrightable expression in a song.”

Now, after getting support from other musicians as well as the Department of Justice, it appears the members of Led Zeppelin are in the clear.

For now.

“Obviously the court got it wrong,” said the trustee’s lawyer, Francis Malofiy. “This is a big loss for creators, those who copyright laws are meant to protect.”

According to Malofiy, he may appeal the 9th Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, The Guardian reports. 

In addition to being a monster win for Led Zeppelin, the ruling is a big win for the music industry as a whole, which has had to fend off a number of frivolous copyright suits since the “Blurred Lines” trial in 2015.

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