Led Zep goes back to court over Stairway plagiarism claims.

Note, by the way, that I avoided a title-based pun for that.

A copyright battle over Led Zeppelin‘s iconic song “Stairway to Heaven” is back on after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday partially vacated the trial court’s judgment in favor of the band and remanded the case for a new trial.

The lawsuit was brought by Michael Skidmore, the Trustee for deceased songwriter Randy Wolfe (best known as Randy California), who composed Spirit‘s “Taurus” in the late 1960s. The complaint — 43 years in the making after much discussion in the musical community over whether “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarized “Taurus” — explicitly demanded a rewriting of rock history.

Because I’m NICE that way, that’s why.

Is it true, though?  Beats me: I was kind of following this video that says it’s nonsense…

…(Via Ed Driscoll) but I’m not a musician.  Which is kind of the problem, isn’t it?  A lot of copyright law is a headache and a half to keep straight, and since the laws weren’t actually written by artists, you get these kinds of disputes*.  It kind of sounds different, it kind of sounds the same, I’m not entirely certain why that music’s not in the public domain anyway. I mean, geez, Stairway to Heaven is only a year younger than I am.

Moe Lane

*Although, speaking as an artist: you don’t want me writing law.


  • JustDave says:

    To me, the most damning part of the video is the part where he points out they’re basically trying to claim copyright on a five chord sequence.


    I’m not a music theorist guy either, but if that one short chord sequence is the only similarity they’ve got, it seems like pretty thin sauce to me.

  • Brian Swisher says:

    Reminds me of a story that Sir Arthur Sullivan and a friend were listening to a musical piece by another composer. The friend remarked that the piece sounded derivative of Sir Arthur’s work. Sir A. merely shrugged and said, “Well, we only have eight notes between us.”

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