Led Zeppelin Denied Attempt to Recoup Nearly $800,000 in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit Fees
A motion for Led Zeppelin to recoup the band’s “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit fees has been denied. Though Zeppelin were victorious after being taken to court for allegedly stealing parts of Spirit’s “Taurus,” a judge ruled Monday (Aug. 8) that Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (who are credited as "Stairway to Heaven" songwriters), along with the song's publishing company, Warner/Chappell Music, were not entitled to be awarded nearly $800,000 in legal fees.
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was estimated to be worth a monstrous $572 million due to what the song had grossed from 1971-2008. Though Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe had been reluctant to sue Led Zeppelin during his lifetime, the trustee of Wolfe’s estate enacted the lawsuit after decades of casual speculation concerning certain similarities between “Taurus” and “Stairway to Heaven.” In June, a jury found Led Zeppelin to be not guilty of copyright violation.
After the trial had ended, Zeppelin’s attorneys moved to collect $793,000 in legal and other fees, citing “extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct.” However, Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that legal fees would not be granted because the copyright lawsuit against Led Zeppelin was not frivolous.
Led Zeppelin claimed material such as the descending chromatic four chord progression in “Stairway to Heaven” could be traced back more than 300 years rather than just Spirit’s “Taurus.” Zeppelin’s past history of copyright lawsuits was also not brought up in court so the jury would not be swayed from looking at the “Stairway” case by its own merits.
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