U.S. Appeals Court to Review Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway’ Decision

Updated: June 10, 2019 / 4:04 p.m.

Led Zeppelin

The rock band, which includes lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, are being accused of copyright infringement for stealing the riff from “Taurus,” a song that was written in 1967 by guitarist Randy Wolfe of the lesser-known band Spirit.

A jury in Los Angeles ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin back in June 2016, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled out 3-0 last September that errors by the trial judge required a new trial.

Francis Malofiy, who is a lawyer for the trustee representing Wolfe’s estate, said the 11-judge appeals court panel which plans to reconsider the case under Monday’s order, will focus on whether to broaden copyright protection for “Taurus.”

He also went on to say that the three-judge panel erred in deciding that a piece of sheet music “deposit copy” of “Taurus,” rather than sound recordings by Spirit, defined the scope of what could be considered copyrighted under the federal 1909 Copyright Act.

“It deals with an iconic song that defined a generation,” said Malofiy, a lawyer at Francis Alexander. He mentioned that the trustee, Michael Skidmore, is expected to get a new trial, “no matter what.”

Led Zeppelin was seeking a broader rehearing by the appeals court. Malofiy said the court never asked him to respond, as would be required under its rules before granting the band’s request.

The lawsuit is considered to be one of the music industry’s most closely watched copyright cases, potentially exposing Plant and Page to millions of dollars of damages. Wolfe drowned in 1997.