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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Intellectual Property Litigation

Sparks From En Banc Arguments In Song Suit Against Led Zeppelin

There was much harmony along with a few discordant notes as an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took up the copyright case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

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There was much harmony along with a few discordant notes as an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took up the copyright case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” All the judges who spoke during oral arguments in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, 16-56057, seemed to agree that sheet music deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office, not a sound recording of it, defines the scope of copyright for a musical work governed by the 1909 Copyright Act. That prompted bitter protests from Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing the estate of Randy Wolfe (p/k/a Randy California), which alleges that Led Zeppelin copied Wolfe’s 1967 song “Taurus” when the group wrote “Stairway to Heaven.”

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