The U.S. Supreme Court Monday left in place a decision by a Los Angeles federal jury that rejected copyright infringement allegations against Led Zeppelin’s 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven.”
The justices rejected a petition aimed at reviving the case, which questioned whether the song’s composers, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, plagiarized “Stairway’s” signature intro from an obscure 1968 album track by the defunct Los Angeles group Spirit.
In March, a federal appeals court ruled that Page did not lift the melody line, affirming a June 2016 decision by a Los Angeles jury that rejected the lawsuit after finding that the British songwriters did not steal elements of Spirit’s instrumental “Taurus,” which was penned by Spirit’s Randy Wolfe, known as Randy California.
The jury four years ago declined to award any damages, culminating a six-day legal battle in downtown Los Angeles that included a courtroom reunion, of sorts, of Led Zeppelin surviving members Page, Plant and John Paul Jones.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later threw out the verdict on the grounds the trial judge gave faulty jury instructions, leading to a rehearing before a full panel of judges in San Francisco.
“It is undisputed that Spirit and Led Zeppelin crossed paths in the late 1960s and the early 1970s,” according to the 9th Circuit ruling. “The bands performed at the same venue at least three times between 1968 and 1970. Led Zeppelin also performed a cover of a Spirit song, `Fresh Garbage.’ But there is no direct evidence that the two bands toured together, or that Led Zeppelin band members heard Spirit perform `Taurus.”’