The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with Led Zeppelin in a long-running copyright feud surrounding their iconic hit ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
The British rock giants initially triumphed back in 2016 when a Los Angeles jury ruled that ‘Stairway To Heaven’ did not infringe on ‘Taurus’, an instrumental track first penned by late Spirit guitarist Randy California for the band’s 1968 debut album.
The case was reopened when a San Francisco court subsequently ruled that an earlier trial should have heard the two songs, instead of having a jury making their ruling based on the musical score or sheet music which showed chords and scale.
However, the rock giants have now been backed by the Justice Department after they filed a friend of court brief on Thursday which supports Led Zeppelin against the claim that the song stole stole the “guitar line and melody” from Spirit’s original song.
In the newly filed brief, the Justice Department says that the initial trial judge was correct when he ruled that only the song’s sheet music was subject to copyright protection, as the song itself was written before a 1972 law which protected sound recordings.
They added that the contentious sections of the song are only worthy of protection if they sound identical, under which reasoning Led Zeppelin would emerge triumphant once more.
The ‘Stairway To Heaven’ case will be re-heard the week of September 23 in San Francisco.
It echoes the recent case against Katy Perry and her collaborators which alleges the track ‘Dark Horse’ “copies” an older rap song, ‘Joyful Noise’.
The ‘Dark Horse’ case was closed last month , with the court ordering Perry, her collaborators and her label to pay more than £2 million in damages.