Written by Timothy M. Carter On September 8, 2020 in Corbello v. Valli, the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed the principle that copyright law does not protect facts and that authors who characterize their statements as fact are estopped from claiming that the statements were actually fiction. 974 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2020). The Court’s opinion reaffirms basic principles that have not recently come up in Ninth … Continue reading ‘Big Litigants Don’t Cry’: Ninth Circuit Finds That Musical About Four Seasons Used Only Unprotected Facts
By David A. Steinberg and James Berkley
On March 9, 2020, the Ninth Circuit issued its en banc decision in the long-running and closely watched copyright case concerning the rock group Led Zeppelin’s 1971 song “Stairway to Heaven.” Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin et al., Case No. 16-56057, 16-56287 (9th Cir. Mar. 9, 2020). A 2014 lawsuit in the Central District of California alleged that “Stairway to Heaven” infringed portions of an instrumental composition titled “Taurus” that had been recorded and released in 1967 by the group Spirit. Capping off several years of uncertainty, the Court’s en banc opinion reversed the previous 2018 ruling of a three-judge panel and reinstated the judgment entered at the district court, where a jury found that “Stairway to Heaven” does not infringe the “Taurus” musical composition.
Among many topics covered, the Ninth Circuit’s en banc opinion contains three sets of holdings that, absent a successful petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, should have continuing implications for copyright litigation in the Ninth Circuit. These holdings may be summarized as follows: Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Led Zeppelin, Clarifies Standards for Copyright Infringement”