Remember the “Stairway to Heaven” Plagiarism Trial? An Appeal Has Been Filed.

Here we go again.

Last summer, a judge dismissed the case that alleged plagiarism and copyright infringement on the part of Led Zeppelin. In case you were orbiting Saturn at the time, it was alleged that “Stairway to Heaven” was a rip-off of a 1968 instrumental by Spirit called “Taurus.” The judge was pretty adamant that the whole thing was a waste of time. But Michael Skidmore, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs–the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, which is what’s left of Spirit since Wolfe died in 1997–vowed an appeal. It’s been on file for a while, but now the brief has been filed.

So what will be different in the new trial? First, the entire composition of “Taurus” should have been admitted during the trial. It wasn’t, which Skidmore considers an error on the part of the court. He also believes that the jury was asked to compare an inaccurate version of “Taurus,” which skewed their judgment. Then there’s the matter of jury instructions, which he considers faulty. And, among other things, Skidmore says the 10-hour time limit placed on him was grossly inadequate.

The filed brief runs for 90 pages and contains a lot of arcane arguments gleaned for various case law and the 1909 Copyright Act.

So when’s the trial? There might not even be one as it has to wind its way through the court system. This is a long way from going to trial again–if ever.

More details on the whole mess here. Thanks to Pamela Chelin for the information.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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