123 artists, including Linkin Park,Smashing Pumpkins,Tool, Korn, Heart,Tears for Fears and Nile Rodgers, have signed a court brief in support of Led Zeppelinin the upcoming rehearing of the "Stairway to Heaven" plagiarism trial.
A jury in the 2016 trial unanimously found that Zeppelin did not infringe on the copyright of an instrumental recording by the group Spirit titled "Taurus." However, that ruling was overturned by a three-judge appeals court panel, which ruled that the presiding judge had erred in not allowing jurors to hear audio versions ofboth songs and in instructing the jury that certain musical elements found in both songs were not protected by copyright.
This June, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the new trial will take place in front of its entire roster of judges -- not just a select panel -- with oral arguments starting the week of September 23rd.
The artists who signed the so-called amicus -- or "Friend of the Court" -- brief state that they will "undoubtedly be affected by the outcome" of the case." They go on to support the claim by Led Zeppelin's legal team that "no evidence was presented at the trial that there was anything particularly original" and worthy of copyright protection in "Taurus," and that "Stairway to Heaven"'s similarities to it were limited to "random similarities of commonplace musical elements" which, when removed, reveal that the two are "different melodies."
Francis A Malofiy, the attorney representing Mike Skidmore, who filed the suit on behalf of the trust of the song's composer, the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe (a.k.a.Randy California), responded to the brief, calling it "unimpressive and dull" and "nothing more than a blast piece for the industry." He also pointed out that 123 songwriters represent only .02 percent of roughly 500,000 songwriters worldwide.