It’s been about a year since I posted, but that’s because I’d posted a Led Zeppelin history item for every day of the year, and history doesn’t change. But I return today with an update on the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit.
Zep fans may recall that a few years ago the band were accused of plagiarizing Spirit’s instrumental track “Taurus” for the intro to “Stairway.” “Taurus” was released in January 1968, more than three years prior to Zeppelin releasing “Stairway.” And because Zeppelin opened for Spirit a few times in early 1969 (shortly after they arrived in the U.S.), the possibility of them having heard “Taurus” in concert certainly exists.
A jury found in the original 2016 trial that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize “Taurus,” ruling that it was not “intrinsically similar” to the opening of “Stairway to Heaven.” However, in September 2018, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the jury at the original trial was given improper instruction from the judge. Now a second trial is set for this September in San Francisco.
But Zep may have help this time. On August 2, Digital Music News reported that 123 artists and organizations have submitted a brief to the court in support of Led Zeppelin, claiming that ruling in favor of Spirit would severely hamper their own creativity, the creativity of future artists, and creativity in “the music industry in general.” We’ll see what happens in September, but in the meantime you can read the brief here.
-GotLed (Aug 10, 2019)