A case that just won’t go away.
One of the most recognizable guitar riffs of the 1970s from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” also became famous for another reason. In 2014 American rock band Spirit accused Led Zeppelin of plagiarism. They claimed that the legendary band stole a piece of the song called “Taurus”. The song written by Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe was released in 1968, three years before “Stairway”.
The British rock legends successfully won the lawsuit in 2016 when a jury concluded that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement. But Michael Skidmore, who represents the interests of the deceased Randy Wolfe, didn’t calm down and decided to appeal. The last hearing took place on September 23rd 2019. A ruling is expected to be announced in 2020.
Associate law professor, Joseph P. Fishman stated that this case is quite rare: “Appeals courts rarely take a case en banc, and they almost never do so in a copyright case.” This lawsuit is one of the most closely monitored copyright cases in the music industry.
What do you think, is a chromatic chord progression alone enough to consider a song as copyright infringing?