Led Zeppelin Cleared Once Again In Copyright Lawsuit Over “Stairway To Heaven”

According to NBC News and Blabbermouth.net, the Justice Department filed a friend of court brief late Thursday supporting Led Zeppelin’s in the “Stairway To Heaven” copyright lawsuit. Last September, a federal appeals court decided unanimously to overturn a jury’s decision that ‘Stairway’ classic was not a rip-off of Spirit’s song ‘Taurus’. Michael Skidmore, the trustee of ‘Taurus’ songwriter Randy “California” Wolfe’s estate, had brought the claims more than four decades after ‘Stairway To Heaven’ appeared on Led Zeppelin’s s untitled album, better known as Led Zeppelin IV or Zoso. In its brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department said the trial judge got it right when he ruled that the only work subject to copyright protection was the sheet music because the song was written before Congress changed the law in 1972, which gave protection to sound recordings. In June 2016, a Los Angeles jury deliberated for about five hours before deciding unanimously in favor of Zeppelin. Continue reading

Led Zeppelin To Receive New Hearing to Uphold “Stairway To Heaven” Verdict

In a story Ghost Cult has been following for some time, a federal appeals court agreed today (Monday, June 10) to give Led Zeppelin a new hearing to defend a jury’s favorable verdict in a suit that claimed the opening lines of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ had been plagiarized from the 1968 instrumental song ‘Taurus’, by the band Spirit. In addition to the band themselves, music experts, including Rik Emmet of Triumph testified that the descending chord progression found in both songs is common in classical and popular music in countless compositions and cannot be “copyrighted” as a signature riff. Last September, a federal appeals court decided unanimously to overturn a jury’s decision that the 1971 track, arguably the most popular classic rock song ever, was not a rip-off of Spirit’s song. Michael Skidmore, the trustee of ‘Taurus’ songwriter Randy “California” Wolfe’s estate, had brought the claims more than four decades after ‘Stairway To Heaven’ appeared on Zep’s untitled album, better known as Led Zeppelin IV or the Zoso album. Skidmore is a well-known in the industry “copyright troll” who’s many lawsuits are cash-grabs without merit. Continue reading

Mastodon – Stairway To Heaven

Covers are a funny thing in music. Nowhere else in art is this level of flattery both respected and derided. Copies or recreations of painting or sculpture are often labeled as “influenced by” or worse, a forgery. All the remakes Hollywood keeps ramming our eyeholes with are mostly flaming hot garbage at summertime in New York City. With cover songs, the best ones are often not a note for note recreation of the original, unless it is an underrated artist or a little known song. From ‘Yesterday” to ‘Cum On Feel The Noise’, Covers have earned a place in our musical culture not only as a novelty. Others can take a well-known song and take it to new heights. Mastodon has done some stellar covers (‘The Bit’ from Melvins, ‘Emerald’ by, Thin Lizzy) and has now added all-time classic rock anthem ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin to the mix. Done in tribute to their late manager Nick John on the Stairway To Nick (Reprise Records) 10″ single for Record Store Day 2019, since Nick was a massive Zep fan. Tragically he passed away after a bout with pancreatic cancer in 2018. Mastodon will donate the proceeds from this release to research for that very disease. You can actually say they did it “because Nick John would have wanted it that way”. And you’d be right. He’d be touched. Continue reading