Led Zeppelin win copyright lawsuit over 'Stairway to Heaven'
Led Zeppelin have won a lawsuit involving a copyright claim over one of their best-known songs, 'Stairway to Heaven'. The lawsuit was brought against the band on behalf the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe and had alleged that the main riff from the introduction to Led Zeppelin's hit had been borrowed from Spirit's 1967 song 'Taurus'.
However, yesterday a jury at the Los Angeles court where the trial was held ruled in favour of Led Zeppelin, saying that the two songs were not “intrinsically similar”. The prosecution had argued that Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin's lead singer and the co-author of 'Stairway to Heaven' along with guitarist Jimmy Page, had access to the Spirit song as a result of the fact that the two bands had shared the bill at a 1970 concert in Birmingham. 'Taurus' had been released a year earlier in 1969, whereas the Led Zeppelin hit didn't arrive until 1971. Earlier this week Plant had drawn laughter from the courtroom when he pointed out that he struggled to remember anything about the concert – or indeed much of that era – due to “hubbub and chaos' surrounding the band at that time, also saying that he had been involved in a bad car accident immediately prior to the gig.
In the end though the jury agreed with the defence, who pointed out that both songs were based on a well-worn chord progression that has been used in numerous compositions dating back as far as 300 years, and that 'Stairway to Heaven' did not bowwow significantly enough from the Sprit track to warrant a a share of the song's publishing rights.
You can listen to both songs below...
Led Zeppelin - 'Stairway to Heaven'
Spirit - 'Taurus'