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Led Zeppelin finally triumph in Stairway To Heaven copyright battle

Led Zeppelin in 1968
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The final possible legal challenge to Led Zeppelin's ownership of Stairway To Heaven has ended. The US Supreme Court declined today (October 5) to hear the case, closing the matter once and for all.

Zeppelin were initially sued for copyright in 2014, with plaintiff Michael Skidmore, acting on behalf of the estate of the late Randy Wolfe of Spirit – aka Randy California – claiming that the song’s iconic opening riff had been stolen from Spirit’s Taurus.

Led Zeppelin won the case in 2016, but it was revived on appeal in 2018. In March this year, an 11-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld the original verdict.

Musicology experts who had testified during the trial stated the descending musical pattern shared by both songs had been a common musical device for centuries. One example cited was Chim Chim Cher-ee, from the 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins.

Last year, 123 artists including Korn, Tool, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Primus’ Les Claypool  pledged their support for Led Zeppelin, saying that ruling with Skidmore would harm the creativity of “the music industry in general” and would cause “excessive and unwarranted litigation” in the future.

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