LOS ANGELES, June 23 (UPI) — Classic rock band Led Zeppelin did not unlawfully copy another song when producing its biggest hit, “Stairway to Heaven,” a California jury declared Thursday.
The group was taken to copyright court over the issue by a representative for a guitarist of the rock band Spirit. At the crux of the plaintiff’s argument was that Led Zeppelin lifted certain parts of the 1968 Spirit sing “Taurus.”
“Stairway to Heaven,” which would become Led Zeppelin’s most popular hit, was produced three years later.
Thursday, a Los Angeles jury spent less than an hour deliberating the case before returning with its verdict.
“We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page said in a joint statement Thursday. “We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”
“Justice wasn’t served,” attorney Francis Malofiy, who represented the estate of Randy Wolfe, said. “It wasn’t a fair fight.” Wolfe died in 1997.
Malofiy also alleged that Led Zeppelin won the case on a “technicality.”
The technicality Malofiy refers to is the fact that only the sheet music for “Taurus” was protected by copyright at the time Led Zeppelin wrote its song. The actual audio recording of the track was not.
And based on the sheet music, jurors decided they didn’t see any plagiarism.