It’s almost eight minutes long, has been played over three million times on the radio and was one of the biggest songs of the 1970s. And for the past three years Super Lawyers selectee Peter Anderson successfully defended it from claims of copyright infringement.
The iconic band Led Zeppelin has been mired in a copyright infringement case over the guitar riff in the song “Stairway to Heaven” for nearly three years now. Last year Anderson, along with the rest of the band’s legal team, successfully argued that the estate of former musician and songwriter Randy Wolfe had no case because the songs relied on similar scales and not specific notes.
However that’s not the end of the story. Attorneys on both sides have now filed appeals with the Ninth Circuit court.
Wolfe’s attorneys claim that the jury decided against their client in part because they were not allowed to hear a recording of the song, only analyze the sheet music. In the late 60s when Wolfe wrote the song “Taurus” only sheet music could be copyrighted, not audio recordings. The attorneys were able to prove that Jimmy Page, guitarist of Led Zeppelin, did have sufficient exposure to the song though and Wolfe’s estate is using that as a basis for the appeal.
Anderson filed a counter appeal asking the appeals court to affirm the original verdict, but asking to reverse an August 2016 decision that Wolfe’s estate was not required to pay the band’s $800,000 in legal fees. Anderson feels that the court erred too far on the side of a 1994 Supreme Court case on the reasonability of copyright cases and not enough on the misconduct of Wolfe’s attorneys.
The case is still ongoing though Anderson is confident that the matter will be settled soon. It’s not every day that a Super Lawyers selectee defends a legendary rock & roll band.