A U.S. Court of Appeals has just forced Led Zeppelin to face a new trial over its hit song, ‘Stairway to Heaven.’
American appeals court has overturned Led Zeppelin’s win, kickstarting a whole new trial.
Led Zeppelin was sued by the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe which alleged that ‘Stairway To Heaven’ was a ripp off of a song written by Wolfe.
The band ultimately defeated the litigation in June 2016. Although the jury reckoned Led Zep’s Jimmy Page may have been exposed to Wolfe’s song ‘Taurus’ before writing ‘Stairway’, it was decided the two songs weren’t sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.
“A quick listen to the composition of ‘Taurus’ on Spirit’s first album and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ makes it quite clear that Mr. Page undoubtedly relied upon ‘Taurus’ to create the early identical introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven’.” – Randy California's trustee Michael Skidmore
The Wolfe estate appealed that ruling in March 2018, and argued that the jury had been poorly briefed by the judge.
The Ninth Circuit appeal court last week concurred with the Wolfe estate, ruling that the judge in the original trial had made errors when advising the jury, especially over some of the copyright technicalities that were relevant to the dispute. With that, the judgment in favour of Led Zeppelin has been overturned and the case will return to court.
The Wolfe estate’s legal rep told reporters: “Today, we are proud that three esteemed jurists from the Ninth Circuit recognised the battle that we fought and the injustice that we faced. Our belief in our justice system never wavered, even under tremendous odds, and we look forward to the challenge of a fair fight”.