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Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’: Appeals Court to Review Lawsuit Decision

Eleven-judge panel will rehear copyright case involving 1971 ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ track, Spirit’s “Taurus”

Ryan Reed Jun 11, 2019

The ruling in the copyright case over Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" will be reviewed in court. Photo: Dario Cantatore/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” will soon add a new chapter to its complicated legal history. An 11-judge panel from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Monday to review its decision on whether the band plagiarized the song’s opening guitar riff from Spirit’s 1968 track “Taurus,” Reuters reports. 

Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page were accused of copyright infringement over their iconic 1971 epic. But in June 2016, a Los Angeles jury ruled that “Stairway to Heaven” were not guilty of infringing on “Taurus,” an instrumental written by Spirit guitarist Randy California (Randy Wolfe) for that band’s self-titled debut LP.

In September 2018, a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel ruled 3-0 that the original trial’s judge provided “erroneous jury instructions” and ordered a new trial. With the latest court decision to rehear the decision in that case, Led Zeppelin may be able to withhold the original ruling.

Francis Malofiy — a lawyer for Michael Skidmore, the trustee representing Wolfe’s estate — said the court will consider whether to broaden copyright protection for “Taurus.” The 11-judge panel will hear the case in San Francisco in late September, The Associated Press reports.

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