[inagesource: Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse]
It’s been a solid six years since Led Zeppelin was accused of copyright infringement by an American band called Taurus.
Given that ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is one of the biggest rock songs of all time, and helped propel the band to international superstardom, it’s no surprise that Led Zeppelin have fought tooth and nail in court, refusing to budge amidst claims that they stole the song’s opening riff from the Taurus song, ‘Spirit’.
In 2016, Led Zeppelin won their case, but a 2018 appeal revived the case, with a court of appeals upholding the original verdict earlier this year.
The final nail in the coffin came this week, when the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, meaning there are no more legal steps that can be taken.
By this point, you should be able to hear the opening notes of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in your head, but here’s a refresher:
Here’s the Taurus track ‘Spirit’ – listen closely from the 45-second mark
It’s not hard to see the similarities, but proving copyright infringement takes more than that.
In addition to protecting their legacy, Led Zeppelin had serious financial reasons for fighting this battle, reports the BBC.
One estimate states the song earned a cool $3,4 million in royalties over the past five years alone:
In the original trial, Spirit’s bassist Mark Andes testified that he met Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant at the show and played snooker with him afterwards.
Plant insisted he had no memory of the night, partially attributing his lack of memory to a bad car crash on his way home. Both he and his wife suffered head injuries in the accident, he told the court, after the windscreen of his Jaguar was left “buried” in his face.
Guitarist Jimmy Page testified he had been unaware of Spirit’s song until people started posting online comparisons in the early 2010s. “I knew I had never heard that before,” he said. “It was totally alien to me.”
The most convincing argument in Led Zeppelin’s favour came from musicologists, with experts saying the descending musical pattern present in both songs is a common musical device, citing a song from Disney’s 1964 musical Mary Poppins as one example.
We’ll end with another classic for some Tuesday gees:
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