Led Zeppelin escaped plagiarism charges in a victory for use of the chord progression C, A minor, F and G, experts said after Thursday’s “Stairway to Heaven” verdict.

Led Zeppelin. Photo by Jim Summaria via Wikimedia Commons
But the attorney representing the estate of plaintiff Randy California reacted with scorn.

Lawyer Francis Malofiy told Rolling Stone the case was “tried in an alternate reality” and said, “Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant. Here there was injustice.”

In a statement, Malofiy said: “The jury never heard the album recording of ‘Taurus’ that Jimmy Page heard and used to create ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Instead it heard a very basic piece of sheet music that no one, including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, had ever seen. It was an artificial comparison that bore little relation to the reality of the claim.”

Ultimateclassicrock.com noted the reaction of rock icon Joe Walsh.

“Walsh argued [that] even though a portion of ‘Stairway’ does have strong similarities to the Spirit song ‘Taurus,’ the building blocks used for both songs are very common — and were even before California wrote his song.

“The ‘Stairway’ claim was based on the four chord descending progression at the beginning of the song, which is similar to the Spirit one (and maybe 30 other songs — one of which Randy California came across and used for the Spirit piece — he didn’t write it. He used it),” wrote Walsh.

“The grandfather of these progressions is: C, A minor, F and G. Starting with the early 1950s, there are probably 500 of these songs, all with those four chords — but each with different melodies and words. THAT should be the criteria for claims. C, A minor, F and G wasn’t stolen — it’s a standard single song form. Nobody owns these.”

Other notes of assent and dissent:

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