Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin copyright battle finally over after Supreme Court denial ents & arts news


Six-year legal battle over one of rock’n’roll’s most famous songs ended after U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Stairway To copyright case Heaven.

Led Zeppelin were first charged with stealing the song’s opening riff from a little-known 1960s American tune in 2014, and, despite winning the case two years later, were sent back to the court two years ago.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court, the nation’s highest appeals court, declined to rule on the case.

Led Zeppelin in the prime of life. Pic: Dick Barnatt / Redferns (Getty Images)

This actually confirmed a 2016 ruling that he didn’t violate Spirit band’s 1968 instrumental track, Taurus.

The 1971 song, often referred to simply as ‘Stairway’, is consistently voted one of rock’s best and grossed the British group around $ 4.3 million (£ 2.6 million) over the five years in cause at trial.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who wrote Stairway, could have been ordered to pay that sum and possibly more in damages had they lost the case.

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Legal proceedings began in 2014 when the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who died in 1997, claimed that Stairway to Heaven had infringed its copyright.

Led Zeppelin was the opening act for Spirit on an American tour in 1968, but Page testified at a 2016 jury trial in Los Angeles that he had not heard “Taurus” until recently.

Zeppelin won the case in 2016, but in September 2018, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit ruled that the original trial involved “Wrong instructions to the jury” and ordered a new trial, Rolling Stone said.

This case ended in February, when the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeal restored a jury verdict that found Led Zeppelin did not steal the song’s opening riff.

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Robert Plant performs on the Pyramid Stage during day two of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 28, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan / Getty Images)
Robert Plant performed at Glastonbury in 2014

This left the Supreme Court as the last option of the Wolfe Estate, but this avenue is now closed.

The actual end of the case will be closely watched by the US music industry, which has been rocked by several similar plagiarism allegations in recent years.

In a 2015 trial, jurors ruled that Robin Thicke’s blurred lines had copied Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up.

Last year Katy Perry’s Dark Horse turned out to have copied a Christian rap song, however, in March a judge overturned that decision.


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