Hear this rare 1970 version of Led Zeppelin's 'No Quarter'
(Credit: Jim Summaria)

Led Zeppelin win another ‘Stairway To Heaven’ copyright case

Led Zeppelin have once again triumphed in a recent copyright case regarding their 1971 iconic hit, ‘Stairway To Heaven’.

The lawsuit has been rumbling on since 2014 after Michael Skidmore, a trustee of guitarist Randy California’s estate.

Originally brought forth back in 2014, the case sees Skidmore acting on behalf of Spirit guitarist, California, who says that Led Zeppelin infringed upon the copyright of Spirit’s 1968 song ‘Taurus’.

Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a judge has ruled that the band did not commit any infringement and Zeppelin have once again defeated the case.

A jury in Los Angeles ruled in favour of Led Zeppelin in 2016 and has only been reheard due to an appellate ruling.

“The world of copyright protection for music changed dramatically during the twentieth century and those changes dictate our analysis here,” M. Margaret McKeown writes in a majority en banc opinion. “Although Skidmore offers a host of reasons why adherence to the statute complicates proof in copyright cases, these arguments cannot overcome the statutory requirements.”

McKeown adds: “Skidmore also complains that restricting protection to the deposit copy disadvantages musicians who do not read music because it can be time consuming and expensive to make an accurate deposit copy. Apparently, that was not a problem here, as Wolfe’s work was transcribed for the sheet music deposit. Digital transcription and other technological advances undercut this argument, not to mention that for decades now, sound recordings have been accepted as the deposit copy. Finally, Skidmore offers conjecture about what might happen if a deposit copy were lost or destroyed.

“We need not play this ‘what if’ guessing game because the statute is clear and unambiguous.”

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