Back in 2016 Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and their Led Zeppelin were again alight in the air as they had won a copyright lawsuit brought on by the representatives of another late rock legend, Randy California (Randy Wolfe), leader and guitarist of Spirit. The claim was that their all-around classic, “Stairway To Heaven”, was “improperly inspired by the Spirit instrumental for ‘Taurus.’” The Spirit track dates back from 1968, while the Led Zeppelin song was released in 1971.
But as Hollywood Reporter, first on the scene, reported, the celebration of Zeppelin’s win might have been a bit premature – in 2018 the 9th Circuit court decided that, “the jury had been improperly instructed about unprotectable music elements and originality.”
Ruling again on the matter on June 10, 2019, The Court decided “that a majority of its active and non-recused judges voted to rehear the matter en banc.” As HR adds, “both sides had requested a rehearing, taking issue with different parts of the 9th Circuit’s decision.”
Rolling Stone quotes one of the lawyers representing the Wolfe/California estate that the court will consider whether to broaden copyright protection for “Taurus.” The new court date is set for late September 2019, when we will see who will fly higher – the spirit or the zeppelin. Or there might be yet another legal twist and turn.