Music News

Led Zeppelin won big in court today (March 9) in the latest ruling in their years-long copyright battle around “Stairway to Heaven.”

Per The Hollywood Reporterthe 9th Circuit Cout of Appeals ruled en banc (by all judges of the court) that the 2016 verdict that ruled Zeppelin did not steal parts of “Stairway to Heaven” from the 1968 track “Taurus” from the band Spirit will stand. In September 2018, a three-judge bench of the 9th Circuit Cout of Appeals overturned the 2016 verdict.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that with this en banc ruling “…will likely become a new standard in copyright infringement cases and may be presented to the Supreme Court. Among other aspects of the decision, the Ninth Circuit determines it was not in error that the jury didn’t get to hear the original “Taurus” sound recording at trial. Furthermore, the appeals court elects to ditch the “inverse ratio rule,” meaning the higher the degree of access to a work, the lower the bar for proving substantial similarity.”

The original lawsuit was brought on by the estate of late Spirit guitarist
Randy California (real name Randy Wolfe) who wrote the song “Taurus.” The estate argued Zeppelin ripped off a chord progression in “Taurus” that was used as the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.” Zeppelin’s defense argued that the descending four-chord progression on “Taurus” was common and not subject to copyright protection, thus proving Zeppelin didn’t rip off Spirit.

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Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.