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Led Zeppelin did not steal Stairway To Heaven riff, court rules

Led Zeppelin did not steal the opening guitar riff for its iconic song "Stairway to Heaven," a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

With Secret Ink - London

The British rock legends were accused in 2014 of ripping off a song called Taurus by the US band Spirit. The case went to a high-profile trial in 2016, at which Page and Plant gave evidence. The jury rejected the claim at that time, deciding the tracks were “not intrinsically similar”.

However, in 2018 the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided the trial judge had made a series of errors and ordered a new hearing.

On Monday, a panel of 11 judges revealed their 9-2 decision that Stairway To Heaven did not infringe the copyright of the Spirit song.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of appeals affirmed a decision by a Los Angeles jury in 2016.

Stairway To Heaven regularly appears on lists of the greatest rock songs ever written, and the case has been one of the music industry’s longest-running and closely-watched disputes.

Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, who wrote the song, could have faced a bill for millions of dollars in damages if they had lost.

The Spirit song was written by the band’s guitarist guitarist Randy Wolfe, known as Randy California, who died in 1997. The case was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for his estate.

“It is undisputed that Spirit and Led Zeppelin crossed paths in the late 1960s and the early 1970s,” the court said in a 72-page ruling Monday cited by CBS Los Angeles. “The bands performed at the same venue at least three times between 1968 and 1970. Led Zeppelin also performed a cover of a Spirit song, ‘Fresh Garbage.’ But there is no direct evidence that the two bands toured together, or that Led Zeppelin band members heard Spirit perform ‘Taurus.'”

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