California Intellectual Property Blog


#LedZeppelin’s #StairwaytoHeaven is not a #Copyright Infringement

stairwayLos Angeles – The ongoing saga of the case of copyright infringement between Led Zeppelin and the trust of Randy Wolfe has finally ended, with the jury finding that Led Zeppelin did not commit copyright infringement. After members of the band Jimmy Page and Robert Plant testified, a federal court jury decided that they did not steal part of “Taurus” when writing “Stairway to Heaven.”

“Taurus” is a song written by Wolfe when he was part of the band Spirit. Released by Spirit in 1968, it was argued in court that it has similar opening chords to Zeppelin’s “Stairway.” Zeppelin’s lawyers had argued that both bands used this common musical element and it is not covered by copyright law, but Wolfe’s legal team disagreed. The verdict in this case has finally settled a debate among music fans on both sides. The two bands played together in England in 1970 and a couple of American music festival shows together in 1969. For this reason, the legal team for Wolfe’s trust claimed that Zeppelin had the opportunity to hear the song before producing “Stairway,” as it was released in 1971, three years after “Taurus.”

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had clear memories of creating “Stairway.” They both testified of writing and piecing together the song in a remote cottage in Wales. Some of their other memories of their interaction with Spirit are more limited. If the lawsuit had been filed 40 years ago when the songs were originally written, when Wolfe was alive and Page and Plant would have had better memories, there is a possibility it would’ve been a better case for the legal team of Wolfe’s trust. The case was allowed to procced all these years later due to the remastering of Stairway to Heaven.

Page and Plant said all along that creating their famous song was their original work. Even during testimony when they could not recall some of the history in the early days of the band and memories of Wolfe and his band Spirit, they agreed on when and where the song was originally written. This is not the first time Led Zeppelin has been in hot water for copyright infringement. Songs in question have included: “Whole Lotta Love,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Dazed and Confused,” and now “Stairway to Heaven.”


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