The Trump administration has weighed in on the legal battle over “Stairway to Heaven” this week, with the Justice Department filing a friend of the court brief supporting the band Led Zeppelin in the ongoing copyright dispute over the song.
The estate of late Spirit guitarist, Randy Wolfe, also known as Randy California had accused Zeppelin of stealing a musical passage from his song and using it as the opening guitar riff of “Stairway”.
In the brief, which was filed late Thursday, the DOJ officials claimed that the case should not be pursued further, despite requests from a three-judge panel Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2016, a jury heard the case and ruled in favour of Zeppelin, but the court of appeals claimed the songs “Stairway” and “Taurus” should have been listened to, rather than basing their ruling on testimony from music experts and renditions of the songs as dictated by their sheet music.
The justice department agreed with the jury on the ruling, supporting their assessment that the only work subject to copyright protection was the sheet music, since compositions prior to 1972 were only protected as sheet music; in 1972, Congress changed the law to protect sound recordings.
Recently, over 100 artists have pledged their support for Led Zeppelin, stating that the ruling in favour of Michael Skidmore, who originally brought the case on behalf of late Randy, would harm the creativity of “the music industry in general” and would cause “excessive and unwarranted litigation” in the future.
The case is scheduled to go before the appeals court in September.