‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin is not plagiarised, court rules
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
The judges considered that Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page did not plagiarise the guitar riff. Credit: Wikipedia
British rock group Led Zeppelin has not plagiarised a guitar riff by a Californian group in order to compose their worldwide smash hit ‘Stairway to Heaven’, a San Francisco appeal court confirmed on Monday.
The court, composed of eleven judges, confirmed a judgement handed down in first instance in Los Angeles in 2016, according to which the iconic song was not a copy of another number ‘Taurus’ composed by Spirit, a psychedelic group from the sixties.
At the time, the judges considered that Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page had certainly had access to the Spirit song. But the plaintiffs, who were claiming between $3 million and $13 million in a copyright claim, had not succeeded in proving that the ‘Taurus’ elements were “inherently similar” in the introductory guitar riff to ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which is over two minutes longer, they said.
In 2016, Page had claimed in court that subsequent agreements at the heart of the trial for plagiarism “had been circulating forever.”
In 2018, the judgement had in any case been annulled during a first appeal procedure, on legal grounds. The members of Led Zeppelin had therefore requested and obtained a revision of this judgement by the San Francisco appeal court.
The judges finally decided on Monday to uphold the judgement delivered in the first instance, based on a 1909 copyright act.