Filewrapper®

"Stairway to Heaven" Holds on to Iconic Riff

August 10, 2016
Post by No items found.

One of the most iconic rock songs of the 20th Century came under fire earlier this summer for allegations of copyright infringement. The estate of Randy Wolfe, guitarist for Spirit on the song "Taurus,"brought a copyright suit against Led Zeppelin, frontman Robert Plant, and guitarist Jimmy Page alleging infringement of a guitar riff that opens the iconic classic "Stairway to Heaven.‚¬

The jury heard testimony from Page that while he owned a copy of "Taurus,"he had never listened to the song during the time "Stairway to Heaven"was written and that he had not actually heard the song until very recently. The six-day trial ended with a jury instruction that correctly stated that while songs and riffs may be copyrighted, common musical elements such as chord progressions are not eligible for protection. This nuance in the instruction likely prompted the jury's finding that while there was a chance Plant and Page head "Taurus,"no infringement occurred because the songs were not objectively similar. Wolfe's estate filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit on July 23rd in the wake of a claim for nearly $800,000 attorneys' fees and costs because the claims were based on songs written 45 years ago and the estate's conduct throughout the case amounted to "continued and gross misconduct.‚¬ However, this claim was denied on August 8, as the case was not "frivolous or objectively unreasonable."This was one of the first requests for fees filed after the Supreme Court ruling inKirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons Inc., which concluded that fees should be awarded to successful copyright litigants. Per the rule, the court must consider if the case was objectively reasonable and then utilize its discretion to weigh other circumstances.

The tension between common, uncopyrightable chord progressions and copyrightable expressions of these chord progressions creates a question of whether songs which are built around such common elements are sufficiently original to be copyrighted.


Post Categories

Comments (0)
Post a Comment



Captcha Image
Return to the Filewrapper Blog

Search Posts

Purpose

The attorneys of McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. designed this blog as an informational and educational resource about intellectual property law for our clients, other attorneys, and the public as a whole. Our goal is to provide cutting-edge information about recent developments in intellectual property law, including relevant case law updates, proposed legislation, and intellectual property law in the news.

Disclaimer

McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. provides this blog for general informational purposes only. By using this blog, you agree that the information on this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice and no attorney-client or other relationship is created between you and McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. Do not consider this blog to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified, licensed attorney. While we try to revise this blog on a regular basis, it may not reflect the most current legal developments. We consciously refrain from expressing opinions on this blog and instead, offer it as a form of information and education, however if there appears an expression of opinion, realize that those views are indicative of the individual and not of the firm as a whole.

Connect with MVS

Enter your name and email address to recieve the latest news and updates from us and our attorneys.

Subscribe to: MVS Newsletter

Subscribe to: Filewrapper® Blog Updates

  I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C.