Did an Expert Musicologist Switch Sides in a Led Zeppelin Copyright Case?


A Ninth Circuit panel vacated in part a district court’s judgment after a jury trial in favor of the defendants and remanded for a new trial in a copyright infringement suit alleging that Led Zeppelin copied “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus,” written by Spirit band member Randy Wolfe.

The jury found that plaintiff owned the copyright to “Taurus,” that defendants had access to “Taurus,” but that the two songs were not substantially similar under the extrinsic test.

Among the issues on appeal was whether the district court abused its discretion by failing to exclude expert testimony on the basis of a conflict of interest.

This copyright case involves a claim that Led Zeppelin copied key parts of its hit “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus.” Years after Wolfe’s death, the trustee of his trust brought this suit for copyright infringement against the members of Led Zeppelin—Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, along with their publishers.

Read more.