Led Zeppelin Wins Copyright Dispute Over 'Stairway to Heaven' Riff

Led Zeppelin Wins Copyright Dispute Over 'Stairway to Heaven' Riff

Led Zeppelin Wins Copyright Dispute Over 'Stairway to Heaven' Riff

A U.S. appeals court has reinstated a ruling that British rockers Led Zeppelin did not copy part of their classic "Stairway to Heaven" from another band.

Fast forward forty-three years from the release of Stairway to Heaven to May 2014.

"Obviously the court got it wrong", said the trustee's lawyer, Francis Malofiy. "This is a big loss for creators, those who copyright laws are meant to protect". On September 28, 2018, a three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals overturned the 2016 court verdict that had ruled in favor of the band.

Then, in August 2019, the US government sided with Led Zeppelin in the continuing copyright infringement case, with the federal government arguing that copyright protection for recorded songs should not extend to "performance elements" that were not included in the sheet music deposited with the US Copyright Office.

Jurors awarded Gaye's children $7.4m, which was later reduced to $5.3m.

Monday's ruling found that because the jury found that Page did have access to the song that the issue was irrelevant, and playing the recording might have prejudiced the jury to consider more than just the compositions.

Over five days in June 2016, Page, Plant and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones gave testimony that tried to loosen any connection.

At the time, an eight-member Los Angeles jury reached a unanimous decision that guitarist Page and singer Plant did not lift the song's iconic arpeggiated intro from the California band Spirit's 1968 instrumental, "Taurus".

In his appeal, Malofiy claimed Klausner had erred when he did not instruct the jury to use the "inverse ratio rule", a controversial rule that the 9th Circuit has used in governing copyright cases since 1977.

McKeown said the rule "defies logic", given how the concept of access has become "increasingly diluted" as more songs become available on Netflix, Spotify, YouTube and other platforms.

In the original opinion laid out by the 9th Circuit, the court invoked the inverse ratio rule but later removed all mention of it in the court's amended opinion. The 9th Circuit covers California and eight other Western states. "Although Skidmore offers a host of reasons why adherence to the statute complicates proof in copyright cases, these arguments can not overcome the statutory requirements".

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