Led Zeppelin won a trial in 2016 which determined that the band did not steal the opening to “Stairway To Heaven,” but the legal case continued on March 12 when the lawyer suing the band appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in an attempt to reverse the verdict and get a retrial.
The 2016 trial was the result of a legal action brought against Led Zeppelin by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy California. Skidmore claimed that Led Zeppelin stole the introduction to “Stairway To Heaven” from Spirit’s song “Taurus.”
However, the jury in the 2016 trial returned a verdict that said that Led Zeppelin had not copied “Taurus.” The jury found that Led Zeppelin had access to the song, but they said that there was no substantial similarity between the two songs.
Now, Skidmore’s lawyer Francis Malofiy, is attempting to reverse the 2016 verdict and win a retrial. He argues that the jury in the trial was unfairly barred from hearing the recorded version of “Taurus,” and instead had to rely on the musical composition of the song. He also had a series of other complaints about the 2016 trial.
Malofiy is an interesting character, and was profiled by Bloomberg in 2016. “Sporting a beard, leather jacket, and a white bandana topped by a trilby, he looks like a cross between Frank Sinatra and Keith Richards,” Bloomberg reporter Vernon Silver wrote at the time.
Led Zeppelin has filed a cross-appeal as it doesn’t wish there to be a retrial. Additionally, the band’s lawyer Peter Anderson wants to overturn a ruling which found that Led Zeppelin’s record label was liable to pay the band’s legal fees. Anderson argues that Skidmore should pay those fees.
The lawyers appeared before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which sat in San Francisco on March 12 and outlined their arguments.
Don’t expect this to be the end of the “Stairway To Heaven” legal case, though. The Ninth Circuit’s website says that it typically decides on appeals between three months and a year after the arguments are heard, which is what happened on March 12.
You can watch the full video of the appeal, and Led Zeppelin’s cross-appeal, in the YouTube video below: