There’s a lady who’s unsure whether Led Zeppelin ripped off “Stairway to Heaven,” and she’s ordering the legendary band back to trial.
The “lady” in question in this case is San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who per NBC News has overturned a 2016 verdict that ruled Zeppelin did not steal parts of their iconic “Stairway to Heaven” from the 1968 track “Taurus” from the band Spirit due to “erroneous and prejudicial” jury instructions that included the U.S. district court not allowing “Taurus” to be played during the trial..
The original lawsuit was brought on by the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy California who wrote “Taurus.” Zeppelin’s defense argued that the descending four-chord progression was common and not subject to copyright protection, thus proving Zeppelin didn’t rip off Spirit. Rolling Stone reports that Zepplin’s defense team has since filed a cross-appeal with attorney Peter Anderson arguing “substantial evidence supports the jury’s verdict and [California’s estate attorney Michael] Skidmore’s appeal has absolutely no merit.”
This whole copyright lawsuit was made possible thanks to Zeppelin’s recent catalog reissue campaign. Per BusinessInsider.com, copyright infringement claims must be made “within three years after the claim accrued.” Even though Led Zeppelin IV, which contained “Stairway To Heaven,” was released on November 8, 1971, it’s re-release on October 27, 2014 created a new master recording, thus, the grounds for the California estate to make their claims. If the estate of California wins this ruling, they will be eligible for any royalties from 2014 onward.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.