A month has passed since a jury ruled that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize parts of its celebrated “Stairway to Heaven” from an obscure instrumental by 1960s group Spirit, but the case is not over yet. The attorneys for the plaintiff filed an appeal this weekend, while Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page issued a statement thanking fans for their support.
Attorneys for Michael Skidmore, who represents the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy California, filed the paperwork for the appeal on July 23rd, exactly one month after a federal jury declared the “Stairway” co-writers, Page and singer Robert Plant, the victors in the suit. Law360 reports that he is disputing not only the ruling but also any “interlocutory” – or provisional – legal rulings and decisions that were made over the course of the legal proceedings.
In the trial, the jury had ruled that although Page and Plant may have heard “Taurus,” the 1968 Spirit recording, prior to writing “Stairway,” the two songs were not “extrinsically similar.” They may have shared a similar chord progression, it decided, but aspects like chord progressions are not copyrightable.
The attorney representing Skidmore and the California estate – Francis Malofiy, who cultivated an unorthodox image in court – told Law360 he felt that Led Zeppelin “won on a technicality,” since the judge would not allow him to play the recordings of the songs. Because of when the songs were released, copyright law protected only the sheet music versions of the tunes, making it so only representations of the songs by other musicians could be played in court. Malofiy likened the experience to “fighting with one foot stapled to the floor.”
A representative for Led Zeppelin declined to comment on the appeal on behalf of the band. Malofiy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Led Zeppelin’s music publisher, Warner/Chappell, filed documents earlier this month seeking $613,000 from the plaintiff to cover its legal fees.
This past weekend, Page broke his silence on the suit with a statement on Facebook. “A few weeks have passed since the judgement of the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ case in Los Angeles, with the jury reaching a unanimous decision in a remarkably short time,” he wrote. “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 [have] been deeply moving. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank all those who contributed such a positive energy to me.”