IN PREVIOUS articles, we wrote that Led Zeppelin is facing a copyright infringement suit alleging that the opening chords of its song “Stairway to Heaven” was copied from the 1967 instrumental song “Taurus” by the band Spirit.
Two years ago, a federal jury in Los Angeles in that case ruled that there was no copyright infringement and that the two songs are not substantially similar.
On appeal, however, a US appeals court ordered a new trial. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge gave wrong jury instructions which misled the jurors about pertinent aspects of US copyright law.
The appeals court said that the lower court did not instruct the jury that although individual elements of a song, such as its scales and notes, may not be protected by copyright, a combination of such scales and notes may qualify for copyright protection if it is sufficiently original.