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Webinar Replay: Stairway to a Heavenly Decision: How Led Zeppelin Won in the Ninth Circuit and May Have Fixed Music Copyright Law

January 12 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

This program offers 1 participatory MCLE credit.

Presented by the Copyright Interest Group.


Led Zeppelin’s attorney, Peter Anderson, will discuss the travails of the band’s litigation involving the iconic Stairway to Heaven song. This program will cover the background leading to the complaint in 2014 accusing the band of copying Stairway to Heaven’s introduction from an obscure instrumental recording by the group Spirit; through discovery and the jury verdict of non-infringement; to a reversal by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit; and, ultimately, to the recent en banc decision reversing that reversal. This program also will discuss how the en banc decision fixed substantial case law problems that led to results such as the much-criticized Blurred Lines case. Topics will include:

  • The inability to raise laches due to the Petrella decision, and the effect and problems of trying to disprove access 40+ years after the event; 
  • The danger of allowing commercial sound recordings that, due to the use of the same instruments with the same tone color or timber, tend to sound the same even when the songs are different;
  • How Spirit’s sound recording was kept out of the trial;
  • The jury verdict of non-infringement;
  • The basis for the three-judge Ninth Circuit panel’s reversal;
  • The grant of en banc review by the Ninth Circuit and its decision, which takes great strides in fixing Ninth Circuit’s law on music copyright infringement; and
  • The immediate consequences of the decision, including a review of Gray v. Perry (the “Dark Horse” case), and the district court’s grant of judgment to Katy Perry and her co-defendants, after the plaintiffs had won a $2.8M jury verdict.

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