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Led Zeppelin Off the Hook in Plagiarism Case

  • VOA News

FILE - This undated handout photo provided by the Kennedy Center shows members of Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

FILE - This undated handout photo provided by the Kennedy Center shows members of Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Legendary rock bank Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize one of its most famous songs, “Stairway to Heaven,” a federal jury in Los Angeles says.

The British group was accused of stealing the introduction to the 8-minute classic from a song called “Taurus” from an American band called Spirit.

Stairway to Heaven” was released in 1971, but Michael Skidmore, a trustee for Spirit’s late guitarist, Randy Wolfe, says Wolfe should be given credit for the song. The plaintiffs also sought $40 million in damages.

However on Thursday, the eight-person jury said unanimously that even if Led Zeppelin had access to “Taurus,” the songs were not extrinsically similar.

In fact, music experts testified that both songs used a musical convention called a descending chromatic four-chord progression, also seen in music by The Beatles, among many others.

Led Zeppelin's founders, guitarist Jimmy Page and leader singer Robert Plant, claim they wrote the song in a Welsh cottage, but Skidmore says the two wrote it after hearing the song “Taurus” by Spirit while the bands allegedly toured together.

Page and Plant were present for the jury's decision.

“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. We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us,” Page and Plant said after the verdict was announced.

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