Led Zeppelin 'Stairway to Heaven' copyright trial: Appeal launched after rockers cleared of plagiarism

A jury found Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not steal their song's iconic riff from Spirit

Jess Denham
Tuesday 26 July 2016 09:58
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Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and frontman Robert Plant won their copyright case in June
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and frontman Robert Plant won their copyright case in June

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” case is going back to court after the claimants filed an appeal against the verdict.

Last month, a jury found that bandmates Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not plagiarise their iconic rock song from Spirit’s 1969 instrumental track “Taurus”, but the copyright trial is not over yet.

Michael Skidmore, the trustee for late Spirit composer Randy Wolfe who originally brought the case, has appealed the decision through his attorney, Francis Malofiy.

“Please take notice that Plaintiff Michael Skidmore, Trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the final judgment entered on June 23 2016, as well as any and all interlocutory rulings, decisions, and orders that gave rise to the judgment and are merged therein,” the appeal reads, according to The Wrap.

Page and Plant issued a joint statement following the ruling that the two songs were not “substantially similar”, thanking fans for their support. “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” they said.

In court, Page said in his testimony that he first heard “Taurus” two years ago when his son-in-law alerted him to the comparisons with “Stairway to Heaven” that were emerging online, while Plant claimed to have “no memory” of watching Spirit play at a 1970 Birmingham gig as he was involved in a serious car crash that same night. Plant also argued that it was not a “problem” that Led Zeppelin covered other bands, including Spirit, at their early gigs. “In the nest of rock and rhythm and blues, there has always been cross-pollination,” he said.

Led Zeppelin’s record label, Warner Music group, also spoke out on the verdict, stating that “supporting our artists and protecting their creative freedom is paramount”.

Malofiy said at the time that there were “many appealable issues”. He has since but suspended from practising the law in Pennsylvania for three months after reportedly violating “various rules of conduct” during a copyright trial over “Bad Girls” by Usher.

Page and Plant are yet to comment on the latest developments in their trial.

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