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First off today, CBS San Francisco reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has announced it will hold an en banc appeal in the Stairway to Heaven case, meaning all 11 judges on the panel will hear the case.
The lawsuit was filed by the estate of guitarist Randy Wolfe. Wolfe performed in the band Spirit and the estate believes Led Zeppelin’s 1971 hit Stairway to Heaven is a copy of Spirit’s 1967 song Taurus. However, in the trial court a jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin. That prompted an appeal by Wolfe’s estate, which saw a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit rule that the case needed to be retried as the jury had received improper instructions and had been barred from listening to Taurus in the court due to Wolfe’s registration only pertaining to the composition.
Attorneys represent Led Zeppelin asked the court to hear the case en banc, meaning with the full panel of 11 judges. While such appeals are relatively rare, the court agreed to do so in this case and will hear it on the week of September 23.
Next up today, Isabella Higgins at ABC News reports that WAM clothing has been sending legal threats to various Australian sports authorities over their use of the Aboriginal flag on various jerseys and uniforms.
The Aboriginal flag is unique in Australia in that its copyright is owned by a single person, namely Luritja artist Harold Thomas. Thomas has reached licensing agreements with just three companies, one to reproduce the flags themselves and the others to place them on clothing and other objects.
One of those companies, WAM Clothing, has been aggressive in sending legal threats to those who use the flag without permission. This includes both National Rugby League and the Australian Football League over their use of the flag on uniforms. This has led to a great deal of controversy as the flag is recognized by Australia as one of its national flags and many feel it should be free for use by all, not just those with licenses from Thomas.
Finally today, Scott Neuman at NPR reports that Alex Jones has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle the Pepe the Frog copyright infringement lawsuit.
Jones, the founder of InfoWars, reached the settlement with Matt Furie, the artist that originally created the character 15 years ago. However, in more recent years the character has been coopted by alt-right personalities, much to the displeasure of Furie. This included Jones, who famously sold merchandize bearing the character on it site.
Last month a judge reduced the maximum amount of damages to $14,000. Today’s settlement takes that amount and adds $1,000 to it. Furie has said he plans to donate the money to Save the Frogs!, a group dedicated to wildlife conservation.