LED ZEPPELIN - US Supreme Court Asked To Intervene In "Stairway To Heaven" Copyright Dispute
August 13, 2020, 3 years ago
Complete Music Update is reporting that the estate of the late Randy Wolfe has officially marched up to the doors of the US Supreme Court to request that the American judges most supreme intervene in the long running "Stairway To Heaven" song-theft case. Allowing the most recent ruling on that matter to stand would be, the estate reckons, “a disaster for the creatives whose talent is often preyed upon”.
A quick recap. The estate of Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California, first sued Led Zeppelin in 2014. They said that the band’s "Stairway To Heaven" ripped off an earlier song called "Taurus", which Wolfe had written for his band Spirit. But in 2016 a jury ruled that, while it may be true that Led Zeppelin members had heard "Taurus" before writing "Stairway", the two songs were not - in fact - similar enough to constitute copyright infringement.
The estate then took the matter to the Ninth Circuit appeals court criticizing various decisions made by the judge in the original jury trial. The appeals court initially concurred with the estate and ordered a retrial. But then it reconsidered the matter en banc - with more judges involved - and that time decided that the original ruling in Led Zeppelin’s favour should stand.
Which is why the estate now wants the Supreme Court to get involved. In a filing to the top court earlier this month, the estate says that the Ninth Circuit made two mistakes in its second ruling, the first relating to what elements of a song enjoy copyright protection, the second regarding what constitutes originality under copyright law.
The first of those bugbears relates to the idea that, in the US, a song is only protected by copyright in the form that it was filed with the US Copyright Office. That’s an issue for older songs, because it used to be that only sheet music could be filed when a song was registered, not a recording of said song. And sheet music doesn’t always represent all the elements of a song as it appears in its original recording.
Read the full story at CompleteMusicUpdate.com.