Rock legends Led Zeppelin have been cleared of stealing the opening guitar lines in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from the Spirit track ‘Taurus’.
A jury of four men and four women dismissed the case against the rock legends, which was brought to the Los Angeles court by the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe.
Both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant attended the US district court this morning to hear the decision having both given evidence at the six-day plagiarism trial.
Seeking a one-third split of the iconic track’s royalties, the prosecution had claimed that Led Zeppelin became familiar with the 1968 Spirit track when the two bands shared the stage together two years later.
Led Zeppelin disputed this and said that the chord progression was "commonplace” and dated back centuries. They also questioned why legal action hadn’t been taken previously since the track’s 1971 release and during Wolfe’s lifetime.
In heated summing up statements yesterday, prosecutor Francis Malofiy said the rock icons were mere “session musicians” who have a habit of “playing other people’s music.”
He added: “We respect and value creation. ‘Creation’ does not mean copying. ‘Creation’ means doing something that is unique and memorable.”
"We're asking for one-third credit. It doesn't minimise (Page and Plant’s) amazing contribution to the song."
Refuting all the claims, Led representative Peter Anderson said that although the band toured with Spirit, there is “no evidence ‘Taurus’ was ever performed in the presence of these two gentlemen (Page and Plant).”
Since the decision was announced this morning Los Angeles time, lawyer and copyright specialist Larry Iser told The Guardian: “Today’s verdict is a vindication of copyright, which only protects an original expression of music.”