Over two years after claiming a victory in a Los Angeles Federal court, Led Zeppelin is once again forced to defend itself regarding the copyright to the band's 1971 signature classic, "Stairway To Heaven." The Chicago Tribune reported, "In a stunning turn-about in a challenge to the authenticity of one of rock's most famous songs, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Friday (September 28th) that a 2016 trial wasn't fair to the group Spirit and its late-guitarist, Randy California (real name Randy Craig Wolfe) (who) wrote the song 'Taurus.' When the case goes to a retrial, jurors will be able to listen to the album version of 'Taurus' -- which was not allowed in the first trial in 2016, drawing a protest from the lawyer for California's trust."

Attorney Francis Malofiy, who represents the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, wrote in an email to The Tribune: "Led Zeppelin obviously copied 'Taurus' by Randy California, a musician they knew well in the 1960's -- as well as several other songs from other musical pioneers, We do not dispute that Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, but their plagiarism indelibly stains their legacy."

In June 2016, songwriters Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were sued by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, on behalf of the late Spirit guitarist who wrote "Taurus" and performed under the name Randy California. The trust was hoping to not only win a monetary judgment, but also secure a writing credit for California on "Stairway To Heaven."

On June 24th, 2016 the seventh and final day of the trial -- which saw Plant, Page, and John Paul Jones all take the witness stand -- the jury asked for recordings of both song to be played -- with "Stairway" being aired twice. These were not the records of each song, but new recordings based solely on the respective song's sheet music. 20 minutes later, the jury had its verdict.

Rolling Stone reported at the time: "In the decisions of the questions considered by the jury, the verdict initially seemed to be leaning towards the plaintiffs. The first -- whether or not the trust of late 'Taurus' songwriter Randy Wolfe, represented by trustee Michael Skidmore, actually owned the 'Taurus' copyright -- ruled 'yes' for the plaintiffs. (Questions over who actually owned the 'Taurus' copyright had been a key part of Zeppelin counsel Peter Anderson's defense throughout the trial.) And as to whether there was a 'preponderance of evidence' that Page and Plant had 'access' to 'Taurus' in advance of writing 'Stairway,' the answer was definitively 'yes.'"

Tim English is an expert on musical plagiarism and the author of Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Stolen Melodies, Ripped-off Riffs, And The Secret History Of Rock And Roll. We asked him what he makes of the case of "Stairway" vs. "Taurus": "I think that it's a fairly distinct similarity on the one hand; but on the other hand, 'Stairway To Heaven' goes (on) for around eight minutes. This is, at the very top, I'd say a quarter of the song that we're talking about here. So, even if we were going to say that they violated the copyright of the Spirit song 'Taurus,' in creating it, you'd still be talking about only a percentage of the total work of 'Stairway To Heaven.'"

AUDIO: RANDY BACHMAN ON ORIGINS OF 'STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN'
AUDIO: TIM ENGLISH ON 'STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN' LAWSUIT