Led Zeppelin has beaten a lawsuit claiming that the iconic guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” was copied from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus.”
The jury also heard from a Spirit bandmember, musicologists and other witnesses and experts opining on such subjects as whether Led Zeppelin had heard “Taurus” before composing their popular song and whether the two songs were substantially similar.
Ultimately, with tens of millions of dollars in recent profits from the song’s continued exploitation on the line, the jury after less than a day’s worth of deliberation has decided in favor of Led Zeppelin and various subsidiaries of Warner Music.
The jury – eight California citizens – delivered its verdict that the plaintiff owned the copyright to “Taurus” and that Led Zeppelin members indeed heard it, but that t was no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements of “Taurus” and “Stairway.” The decision came after the jury took one last listen of both songs.
“We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” they said.
Warner Music also cheered the outcome: “At Warner Music Group, supporting our artists and protecting their creative freedom is paramount. We are pleased that the jury found in favor of Led Zeppelin, re-affirming the true origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are peerless songwriters who created many of rock’s most influential and enduring songs.”