In an unanimous decision, a federal jury announced on Thursday, June 23, that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize their song, “Stairway to Heaven.”
Michael Skidmore, a trustee for Randy Wolfe—guitarist of band, Spirit—filed a complaint in an eastern district of Pennsylvania court in 2014, accusing Led Zeppelin of copyright infringement. Skidmore claimed the introduction of “Stairway to Heaven” was stolen from Spirit’s track, “Taurus.”
Skidmore was seeking $40 millim in damages and a writing credit for Wolfe.
However, the eight-member jury found Led Zeppelin not guilty, citing the “original elements of Spirit’s song are not extrinsically similar” to “Stairway to Heaven.”
Reports indicate Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant were in the courtroom when the verdict was read and expressed excitement over the ruling.
“We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” the pair wrote in a joint statement. “We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”
Warner Music Group shared similar sentiments.
“At Warner Music Group, supporting our artists and protecting their creative freedom is paramount. We are pleased that the jury found in favor of Led Zeppelin, re-affirming the true origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are peerless songwriters who created many of rock’s most influential and enduring songs.”
Attorneys for Skidmore expressed frustration over the ruling.
“They won on a technicality,”Francis Malofiy said. “We proved access. We proved they had access to the music, but the jury never heard the music.”
“Taurus” was never played for the jury. “So the jury’s sitting there with basically blinders on without ever having the opportunity of hearing the evidence at issue.”
He added, “We’re fighting with a foot stapled to the ground, and an arm tied behind our back, and it wasn’t a fair fight.”
Malofiy intends to appeal the decision.