Led Zeppelin cleared in Stairway to Heaven copyright lawsuit

A jury deliberated for five hours and determined Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had not stolen the opening riff of Stairway to Heaven from a song by a California band called Spirit. From the Hollywood Reporter:

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 there 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. Within a half hour of doing so, the jury had made up its mind.

CNN reports that there were some admissions made in the case, including that Zeppelin had played a cover of another Spirit song early in their career and that Jimmy Page owned the Spirit album with the song Taurus on it:

Under cross-examination, Plant acknowledged that Led Zeppelin played a cover medley that included a different Spirit song in the band’s early days, but he didn’t recall seeing Spirit in concert, or ever meeting the group. “Don’t remember now, and didn’t remember then,” Plant told the court.

Last week, Page testified that he didn’t remember hearing Spirit perform live. He said he first heard “Taurus” on the internet two years ago, despite owning an album with the song among his more than 4,000 records. “Something like that would stick in my mind. It was totally alien to me,” Page said.

After the verdict, Plant and Page released a joint statement saying, “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origin of Stairway to Heaven and confirming what we have known for 45 years. We appreciate our fans’ support and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”