Stairway to Appeals Court: Eleven Judges to Hear Led Zeppelin Case

Jun 12, 2019  •  Post A Comment

A panel of 11 judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the rock band Led Zeppelin’s appeal in a copyright lawsuit alleging the group stole its 1971 classic “Stairway to Heaven” from an obscure 1960s instrumental, the AP reports.

“In a 2016 trial that included testimony from Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, a jury found that ‘Stairway to Heaven’ did not significantly resemble the song ‘Taurus,’ written by the late Randy Wolfe and performed by his band Spirit,” the AP reports. “Page said he wrote the music for the song and Plant the lyrics, and that both were original.”

But the report notes that in September, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit ruled that the judge at the trial had failed to advise the jury properly, and ordered a new trial.

“The judges unanimously found that the trial judge was wrong to tell jurors that individual elements of a song such as its notes or scale may not qualify for copyright protection, because a combination of those elements may qualify if they are sufficiently original,” the AP reports. “Led Zeppelin’s lawyers moved to the next level of appeal, asking for the larger group of judges to rehear the case, and the request was granted.”

The 11-judge panel will reportedly hear the case in September in San Francisco.


  1. I don’t understand why they keep calling Spirit an obscure band. They were very popular in the seventies, and from them a band called Jojo gun was formed. They were also very popular. I have listened to what the judges listen to and to my ear at 70 years old, it appears that many many of the notes are the same that led zeppelin used in stairway to heaven. Only my opinion, but I’ll go back to spirit as not being an obscure band.

  2. Just PAY the people already. We all have ears and can hear, here

  3. The problem with this suite (and many others in the past… and has been pointed out every time) is that the nature of the musical scale (of western music) will lead to similar melodic compositions over time.

    It is inevitable.

    Coincidence and serendipity will explain most such similarities… even in this case.

    What might be helpful would be any evidence (beyond someone’s 40+ year old regionally-based recollections) that Spirit (or Jojo gun) was a widely known band. My recollections are multi-regional (OH, PA, CA, & AZ) and I never heard of Spirit or the Taurus.

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