In 2016, Led Zeppelin went on trial for the alleged theft of original music from Spirit’s track “Taurus.” Spirit believes the classic rock hit, “Stairway to Heaven,” was based on that original song. At that stage, a jury verdict found there was no substantial similarity to the little-known instrumental track.

It seems Spirit has not given up on the cause and a federal appeals court has ordered a retrial over the alleged copyright claim.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ heading back to court

As reported by Bloomberg, a 2016 jury verdict claimed the British rock band Led Zeppelin had not stolen Spirit’s track “Taurus,” when writing the popular hit songStairway to Heaven.”

In 1968, guitarist Randy Wolfe, who played with Spirit at the time, wrote the music for their little-known 1968 track “Taurus.” Led Zeppelin then went on to release “Stairway to Heaven” in 1972.

Wolfe died in January 1997 and the trustee of his estate has gone back to court over the copyright infringement. After the trustee appealed the previous verdict, the appeals court has now ordered a new trial.

CBS News reports that the late Wolfe’s trustee, Michael Skidmore, claims Robert Plant, the lead vocalist, and Jimmy Page, a guitarist for Led Zeppelin were possibly inspired by the obscure track “Taurus” at a time when both bands were touring together from 1968 to 1969 and they heard the music during that tour.

Similarities between ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Taurus’

There is a descending four-chord progression in the opening of “Stairway to Heaven” that is similar to a chord progression in the track “Taurus.” Skidmore is claiming Led Zeppelin had not given any credit to Wolfe for that portion of the music.

Led Zeppelin claims Wolfe, whose stage name was Randy California, was merely a songwriter for hire and that he did not have a copyright claim, adding that the chromatic four-chord progression was a common musical convention and not a copyright theft.

The jury in 2016 agreed that the songs were not similar enough to lead to a copyright claim.

On Friday, the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling from 2016, claiming the jury’s instructions had been prejudicial and erroneous. They also found that the court had abused its discretion in 2016 by not allowing the Plaintiffs to play a recording of the track “Taurus” during the court proceedings.

The following video is of Led Zeppelin playing “Stairway to Heaven.”

Here is the track “Taurus” by Spirit. The chord progression in question is at .44 seconds into the YouTube video. The similarity is, indeed, striking.