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Led Zeppelin have won their lawsuit for “Stairway To Heaven”. The jury has ruled that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not steal from the Spirit song “Taurus”.
Today in Los Angeles, the jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin in their copyright case for their infamous “Stairway to Heaven” via Pitchfork. Back in May of 2014, Michael Skidmore, the trustee for the estate of former Spirit guitarist Randy California (Randy Wolfe) filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin for infringement. The lawsuit claimed that the introduction of the 1971 classic “Stairway to Heaven” was strikingly similar to Spirit’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus”. Before Randy Wolfe died in 1997, he had a rare discussion on the similarities in an Interview with Listener Magazine. In the interview the easy-going Wolfe stated, “Well, if you listen to the two songs, you can make your own judgment. It’s an exact… I’d say it was a rip-off. And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said, ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’ It’s kind of a sore point with me. Maybe some day their conscience will make them do something about it. I don’t know”. After the verdict today, all that speculation surrounding the similarities to the two songs has been resolved. That verdict came after the controversial trial that had members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones each give their own testimony’s. Both Page and Plant denied hearing Spirit’s “Taurus” before creating “Stairway to Heaven”.
The attorney for Randy Wolfe was fighting to give the artist a writing credit and also acknowledged the vast amount of money that “Stairway to Heaven” has made. In fact, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Stairway’s stature—financially, culturally, and musically—is towering. By 2008, when Conde Nast Portfolio magazine published an estimate that included royalties and record sales, the song had earned at least $562 million”. These numbers are larger now and will continue to grow as Led Zeppelin released new versions of their albums in the summer of 2014.
Many believe that even in the scenario that Led Zeppelin is guilty of copyright infringement, no one but the band could have transformed the “chord progressions into such a masterpiece of excess”. The similarity between “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” have been debated by music fans for years. Now the verdict to the lawsuit has given fans their answer, but no one can say (legally) that it was an infringement on the instrumental by Spirit.