Trump Administration Defends Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Case
With Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" copyright case to be reheard next month, there has been an influx of support coming from all around. Earlier this month, Tool, Korn and over 100 other artists offered their support, and now it's coming from the Trump administration as well.
The case was first brought to light around five years ago when Led Zeppelin were accused of copying the opening riff of Spirit's "Taurus" for their widely popular song, "Stairway to Heaven." Zeppelin won the case in 2016, but it has been reopened since the jury did not hear the recordings in court, and will be reheard in San Francisco in September.
According to NBC News, the Justice Department filed a friend of court brief last Thursday (Aug. 15) in support of Led Zeppelin, stating that the initial judge from the 2016 case was correct in its decision that they did not violate copyright.
Congress changed the federal copyright law in 1972 to include protection for sound recordings, but because "Taurus" was written in 1967 prior to the law change, its sheet music is the only aspect protected by law. The Justice Department adds that in this case, Led Zeppelin should be safe, since the guitar scales of the two songs are not absolutely identical.
The recent brief filed by 123 artists, including Tool and Korn, expressed concern over the outcome of the case. They fear that if Led Zeppelin lose, it will affect the mentality of artists writing music going forward over fear of being taken to court.
The upcoming appeals court rehearing in San Francisco will consist of a panel of 11 judges.
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