Still Climbing

Plaintiff appeals verdict in Led Zeppelin “Stairway” plagiarism suit

By Gary Graff
July 26, 2016

Led Zeppelin isn’t done defending itself against plagiarism claims for “Stairway to Heaven.” The claimant in the suit has filed an appeal of the June jury verdict in Los Angeles that determined Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were not guilty of stealing portions of the song from the Spirit instrumental “Taurus.”

Michael Skidmore, the trustee for the estate of the late Spirit guitarist Randy California (the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust), has filed the motion with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles; the key issue is that the judge in the trial did not let jurors hear Spirit’s original recording but rather had the song performed live by musicians in the courtroom.

It’s not yet known who will represent the estate; attorney Francis Malofiy has been suspended for several months over issues stemming from another case.

Page had just issued a message to fans over the weekend thanking them for their support through the trial: “A few weeks have passed since the judgment, with the jury reaching a unanimous decision in a remarkably short time. 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. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank all those who contributed such a positive energy to me.”

Led Zeppelin and its publishing company have also filed a $630,000 suit against California’s estate to cover legal and other costs related to the trial.