Appeal lodged in Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven court case


Led Zeppelin’s legal woes are not over, as the Stairway to Heaven court case is continuing due to an appeal lodged on July 23 by Michael Skidmore.

Skidmore represents the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy California, who wrote Taurus. Skidmore took Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page to court, alleging they plagiarised the opening chords of Stairway to Heaven. A Californian jury found last month that the Led Zeppelin song was not intrinsically similar to Taurus.

It’s not clear on which grounds the appeal will be based. Judge Gary Klausner had the original case decided on the basis of sheet music deposited with the US Copyright Office. He didn’t allow alternative versions to be played, so this could be a point of contention.

Led Zeppelin seeking $613,000 to cover Stairway to Heaven court case costs

On July 7 Led Zeppelin’s publishing company Warner/Chappell Music filed documents seeking $613,000 to cover costs incurred during the copyright infringement case. Warner/Chappell said that Skidmore’s legal team displayed “extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct”.

The plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy received “multiple admonishments” and over a hundred sustained objections during the Stairway to Heaven court case. Warner/Chappell suggested that Malofiy edited a photo of Plant and Spirit’s Mark Andes to “omit two people and create the false impression” that the pair were talking, among other offenses.

Malofiy later commented to Rolling Stone:

“The lawsuit was objectively reasonable, and we are confident that any appeal will be successful. However, I will say that their allegations of misconduct are meritless and over the top. Anyone who was in the courtroom knows that there was no misconduct at the trial.”

If Skidmore doesn’t have any luck with the appeal, he could end up with an awfully large bill for his trouble. Los Angeles intellectual property lawyer William Hochberg told Bloomberg he expects Warner/Chappell will successfully recover the $613,000 in legal fees.

Earlier this month legendary axeman Page thanked fans for their positive energy during the trial:

“Throughout the lengthy journey to that verdict, and even more recently, I have received and been aware of the overwhelming wave of support, encouragement and congratulations that has been deeply moving.”

Led Zeppelin reissuing BBC Sessions with previously unheard song

Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven court case complete BBC sessions
The Complete BBC Sessions artwork and physical formats.

Led Zeppelin haven’t been idle outside the courtroom. Last Wednesday they announced remastered and expanded edition of their 1997 BBC Sessions album. The new release, the Complete BBC Sessions, features eight unreleased BBC recordings, including three from a lost session in 1969. Previously unheard track “Sunshine Woman” is featured in the album. The remastering process was overseen by Page. The three-CD release is available for pre-order on Amazon in digital, CD and vinyl formats. The album will ship on September 16.


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