This is such an important decision for musicians that I decided to include it here, despite not being patent-related. Ruling en banc, the full 9th circuit, in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, reinstated a 2016 verdict that vindicated Let Zeppelin, who was accused of copying the song “Taurus” by the band Spirit, for Zeppelin's song, “Stairway to Heaven.”

The court explicitly reversed it's prior rulings relevant to the “inverse-ratio rule,” which permits a lower standard of proof of substantial similarity where there is a high degree of access to the original material. The court wrote that, “this formulation is at odds with the copyright statute and we overrule our cases to the contrary.”

The original jury verdict was overturned by a 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit who said that the trial judge “undermined” the case heard by the jurors. Predominantly, the en-banc court rejected the argument that the jurors should have been allowed to hear or consider a recorded version of “Taurus” during trial. Agreeing with the trial judge, the en banc court held that the copyright tot he song was limited to a bare-bones version of sheet music as it was released before federal copyright law was extended to sound recordings.

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