Led Zeppelin has beaten a lawsuit claiming that the iconic guitar riff in "Stairway to Heaven" was copied from Spirit's 1968 instrumental "Taurus."
After a week's worth of testimony and arguments on last thrusday, the jury came back with its verdict in a case that's been decades in the making. At trial, Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant testified as well as Michael Skidmore, the Trustee of Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe's estate, who demanded in his lawsuit a rewriting of rock 'n' roll history.
It said the riff Led Zeppelin was accused of taking from Spirit's 1967 song Taurus "was not intrinsically similar" to Stairway's opening.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant said they were grateful to "put to rest questions about the songs origins... confirming what we have known for 45 years".
The case was brought on behalf of Spirit's late guitarist, Randy Wolfe.
During the trial, defence lawyers argued the chord progression in question was very common and had been in use for more than 300 years.
The prosecution had argued Led Zeppelin became familiar with Spirit's song after the two bands played on the same bill at a club in Plant's hometown in Birmingham in 1970, a year before Stairway to Heaven was released in 1971.
The jury — eight California citizens — delivered its verdict that the plaintiff owned the copyright to "Taurus" and that Led Zeppelin members indeed heard the song, but that there was no substantial similarity in the extrinsic elements of "Taurus" and "Stairway."
If the multimillion-dollar "Blurred Lines" verdict showed that artists can cross the line in being inspired, this latest decision shows that for whatever similarities lay observers spot, there's still ample room for artists to be cleared of song theft.