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Tough questions for the plaintiffs in latest Stairway To Heaven song-theft court hearing
The big 'Stairway To Heaven' copyright dispute was back in court on Monday, and one copyright technicality in particular was in the spotlight: the rule that only the specific version of a song as logged with the US Copyright Office enjoys copyright protection. In the back and forth on that one issue, the judges gave the plaintiffs in the case quite a bit of grief.
Led Zeppelin, as you may remember, were sued by the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California. Its lawsuit alleged that 'Stairway To Heaven' ripped off Wolfe's song 'Taurus'. But the band successfully defeated the litigation in 2016 when a jury concluded that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.
The Wolfe estate then appealed that ruling in early 2017, arguing that the jury had been badly briefed by the judge, in particular regarding some of the complexities of American copyright law that were relevant to the case. The Ninth Circuit appeals court ultimately concurred with the estate, overturning the original judgement and ordering a retrial.
Though, before that retrial could happen in the court that originally heard the case, the Ninth Circuit announced it would consider the matter anew. This time en banc, so that more judges would be involved in the court's deliberations. And that new consideration, en banc, began on Monday, with lawyers for both sides being questioned by judges.
Posted on: 26/09/2019Categories: News from CMU Online
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