Monday, October 5, 2020

Led Zeppelin win appeal in Stairway To Heaven lawsuit

Led Zeppelin have won the appeal in the copyright infringement lawsuit over their 1971 classic, “Stairway To Heaven.”

Rolling Stone reports on October 5 the US Supreme Court declined to review the case after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2016 decision that “Stairway” did not infringe on Spirit’s 1968 instrumental track, “Taurus.”

The case was launched in 2014 by the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California, whose trust – represented by lawyer Michael Skidmore – sought to claim infringement by “Stairway” co-writers Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

In its new decision, the Ninth Circuit overturned a long-standing precedent known as the “inverse ratio rule”, which states that if one party can prove a high degree of access to a certain work, the less substantial the similarities need to be in order to prove infringement.

Skidmore argued that the Led Zeppelin rockers had access to “Taurus” because they had toured with Spirit in late 1968 and 1969.

In his decision, Judge R. Gary Klausner said that because the inverse ratio rule “defies logic, and creates uncertainty for the courts and the parties, we take this opportunity to abrogate the rule in the Ninth Circuit and overrule our prior cases to the contrary.”

Speaking about the widespread access to creative works in the digital age, Klausner noted: “To the extent ‘access’ still has meaning, the inverse ratio rule unfairly advantages those whose work is most accessible by lowering the standard of proof for similarity. But noting in copyright law suggests that a work deserves stronger legal protection simply because it is more popular or owned by better-funded rights holders.”


“Stairway To Heaven” appeared on the UK band’s 1971 release, “Led Zeppelin IV.”

One of the best-selling albums in music history, the project went on to sell more than 37 million copies worldwide, including 23 million in the US alone.

See also:

Led Zeppelin to release 50th anniversary Immigrant Song single
Robert Plant revisits Tall Cool One on Digging Deep season finale
Robert Plant revisits 2005 single Shine It All Around
Robert Plant teams up with Patty Griffin for rockabilly classic
Search Led Zeppelin at hennemusic