Suing Led Zeppelin Could Get Costly for Plaintiff

The copyright infringement lawsuit enters round 2.

By Hayden Wright

Last summer, Led Zeppelin successfully defended a lawsuit that alleged Jimmy Page copied the opening riff to “Stairway to Heaven” from the band Spirit’s song, “Taurus.” A jury found that the suit lacked merit. Since then, representatives for Michael Skidmore (trustee of Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe’s estate) filed an appeal.

Related: Led Zeppelin will not be Reimbursed for Legal Fees from ‘Stairway’ Trial

In a cross-appeal filing, attorneys for Led Zeppelin have requested that Skidmore be ordered to cover fees for the legal back-and-forth because “substantial evidence supports the jury’s verdict and Skidmore’s appeal has absolutely no merit,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.

In the cross-appeal, Zeppelin attorney Peter Anderson identifies holes in Skidmore’s argument: “Skidmore misreads statutes and cases to advocate against black-letter copyright law that the copyright registered in a work protects only the copyrighted work and that federal copyright does not extend to sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972.”

Moreover, Anderson argues that the similarities between “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” have been too vague all along—based on “the shared presence of five pitches of the chromatic scale.” Fundamentally, Anderson writes, “no one owns musical scales.”

Skidmore and Wolfe’s could get a new, winning verdict from the appeal. Led Zeppelin could recoup legal costs. Or all parties could end up in the same position they’re in now.

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