The band, as well as lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, were accused of copyright infringement for stealing the riff from "Taurus", a song written in 1967 by guitarist Randy Wolfe of the lesser-known band Spirit.

Members of British rock band Led Zeppelin (L-R) bass player John Paul Jones, lead singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer Jason Bonham, who replaces the band's original drummer his father John Bonham, arrive for the premiere of their film
Members of British rock band Led Zeppelin (L-R) bass player John Paul Jones, lead singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer Jason Bonham, who replaces the band's original drummer his father John Bonham, arrive for the premiere of their film "Celebration Day", in New York. October 9, 2012. (Reuters Archive)

"Stairway to Heaven" will get another hearing, this time to a packed house.

A panel of 11 judges from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed on Monday to hear Led Zeppelin's appeal in a copyright lawsuit alleging the group stole its 1971 rock epic from an obscure 1960s instrumental.

Page said he wrote the music for the song and Plant the lyrics, and that both were original. 

But in September, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit ruled that the judge at the trial had failed to advise the jury properly, and ordered a new trial. 

The judges unanimously found that the trial judge was wrong to tell jurors that individual elements of a song such as its notes or scale may not qualify for copyright protection, because a combination of those elements may qualify if they are sufficiently original.

Led Zeppelin's lawyers moved to the next level of appeal, asking for the larger group of judges to rehear the case, and the request was granted. 

The 11-judge panel will hear the case in late September in San Francisco.

The band, as well as lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, were accused of copyright infringement for stealing the riff from "Taurus", a song written in 1967 by the guitarist Randy Wolfe of the lesser-known band, Spirit.

Francis Malofiy, a lawyer for the trustee representing Wolfe's estate, said the 11-judge appeals court panel that will reconsider the case under Monday's order will focus on whether to broaden copyright protection for "Taurus".

He said the three-judge panel erred in deciding that a sheet music "deposit copy" of "Taurus", rather than sound recordings by Spirit, defined the scope of what could be copyrighted under the federal 1909 Copyright Act.

"It deals with an iconic song that defined a generation," said Malofiy, a lawyer at Francis Alexander. He said the trustee, Michael Skidmore, will get a new trial "no matter what".

A lawyer for Led Zeppelin had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit is among the music industry's most closely watched copyright cases, potentially exposing Plant and Page to millions of dollars of damages. Wolfe drowned in 1997.

The case is Skidmore v Led Zeppelin et al, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-56057.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies