Led Zeppelin wins 'Stairway to Heaven' copyright trial

Led Zeppelin has won in the lawsuit over the band’s song “Stairway to Heaven,” following a two-day jury deliberation in the case, Reuters reports.

The jury ultimately ruled in Led Zeppelin’s favour, saying it did not commit copyright infringement.

The trust of deceased songwriter Randy Wolfe, otherwise known as Randy California from the band Spirit, was seeking “millions of dollars and a third of the songwriting credit” for the eight-minute Led Zeppelin anthem from 1971.

In the trial, the lawyer behind Wolfe’s estate accused the Zeppelin band members of “selective memories and convenient truths” in their testimony regarding their knowledge of the Spirit song in question, a 1968 instrumental song called “Taurus.”

In his closing statements, Led Zeppelin’s attorney, Peter Anderson, said the plaintiff failed to present adequate evidence for the copyright claims of the passage in question — which Anderson claimed to be “a common descending chord sequence in the public domain.”

Anderson also argued that the case should have been brought to trial when Wolfe was still alive and Plant and Page would have been better able to recall the song’s creation.

“How can you wait a half century and criticise people … 45 years later for the delay you caused?” Anderson said. “They should have sued in 1972.”

On Thursday, after a weeklong trial, the jury of eight California citizens sided with Led Zeppelin within half an hour of taking one last listen to both “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The jury’s verdict found that while Spirit owned the copyright to “Taurus” and that Led Zeppelin members “indeed heard it,” there was nonetheless “no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements” of the two songs, THR reports.

After the verdict, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page released the following joint statement: “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years. We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”

Warner Music Group also commented on the verdict, releasing the following statement: “At Warner Music Group, supporting our artists and protecting their creative freedom is paramount. We are pleased that the jury found in favour of Led Zeppelin, re-affirming the true origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are peerless songwriters who created many of rock’s most influential and enduring songs.”

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