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Music History Events: Legal Issues

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June 23, 2016 After a trial in which the three living members of Led Zeppelin testified, a jury rules that they are not guilty of plagiarizing the intro of "Stairway To Heaven" from the 1968 song "Taurus" by the band Spirit.

June 15, 2016 Jimmy Page takes the stand in a trial where he is accused of stealing part of the song "Taurus" for the intro to "Stairway To Heaven." Led Zeppelin played on the same bills with the band Spirit, who performed "Taurus" in their sets, but Page says he never heard that song before writing "Stairway." The jury rules in favor of Led Zeppelin.

February 18, 2016 The #FreeKesha campaign heats up after pop singer Kesha loses a preliminary injunction during an 18-month legal battle with producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald).More

September 22, 2015 The "Happy Birthday" copyright is ruled invalid, putting the song into the public domain.More

March 10, 2015 A jury awards Marvin Gaye's estate (his children Marvin III, Frankie and Nona) $7.3 million, finding that the Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines" is too similar to Gaye's 1977 hit "Got To Give It Up."More

October 14, 2014 Pop singer Kesha files a civil lawsuit against her longtime producer, Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), in a bid to be released from her contract. She cites years of physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of the producer, who denies all charges.
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July 23, 2014 Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin gets a speeding ticket in her hometown of Wasilla. She blames her excessive speed (63mph in a 45) on Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55," which was playing on her radio. When Hagar gets word, he tweets Palin offering to cover the ticket.

February 6, 2013 Rihanna accompanies Chris Brown to his probation hearing stemming from when he assaulted her in 2009. They are back together as a couple; she is spotted blowing kisses his way.

November 7, 2011 Dr. Conrad Murray is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Murray was accused of giving the singer a lethal dose of the sedative propofol on the day he died.

June 28, 2010 Jake Holmes finally gets around to suing Led Zeppelin for plagiarizing his 1967 song "Dazed And Confused." Led Zeppelin released a very similar song with the same title on their 1969 debut album, but Holmes waited decades to take legal action. The case is eventually settled, with the writing credit on the song changed to "Jimmy Page, Inspired By Jake Holmes."

February 4, 2010 A judge rules that the flute riff of the Men at Work song "Down Under" plagiarizes another Australian classic: the 1932 song "Kookaburra."More

October 12, 2009 Michael Jackson's from-the-vaults track "This Is It" is released as a promotional single to accompany the concert documentary of the same name. It's the first release since his death in June.More

June 22, 2009 Chris Brown pleads guilty to assaulting Rihanna the night before the Grammy Awards. He avoids jail time, but is sentenced to five years' probation and about 1400 hours of community service. Rihanna asks that no restraining order be issued, but the judge implements one anyway, saying it could be rescinded after he undergoes a year of counseling.

June 18, 2009 Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a 32-year-old woman from Minnesota, is found guilty of illegal sharing of music files via the Internet and is ordered to pay $1.92 million, $80,000 per song.More

April 13, 2009 A jury finds the now 69-year-old Phil Spector guilty of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

June 13, 2008 R. Kelly is innocent! After a six-year legal battle, he's acquitted of all charges after less than a day of deliberations in his child pornography trial. Prosecutors had argued that a video tape mailed to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 showed Kelly doing horrible things with a 13-year-old girl.

March 21, 2008 Beach Boys founding members Mike Love and Al Jardine settle a lawsuit Love filed in 2003, claiming Jardine was touring under variations of the group name, to which Love owns the rights. The settlement leads to a reunion of the group in 2012 for their 50th anniversary.

March 17, 2008 Heather Mills is awarded 23.7 million pounds (about $47 million) in her divorce from Paul McCartney, substantially more than the $32 million Paul offered. Throughout the ordeal, Mills is vilified in the British press as being opportunistic.More

June 3, 2007 During a gig in New York, a fan throws something at Akon during his set. The singer brings the offender on stage, picks him up and hurls him into the crowd.More

December 20, 2006 Nearly 40 years after it was recorded, Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher is awarded 40% of the songwriting credit for "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" by a London court. The judgment is reduced on appeal in 2008.

June 13, 2005 After a five-month trial, Michael Jackson is cleared of all charges of child molestation.

June 6, 2005 A Los Angeles jury begins deliberation in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.

September 27, 2004 Legendary rock producer Phil Spector, best known for creating the "Wall Of Sound" on hits like The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," is indicted for the February 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson at his estate in Alhambra, California.

April 21, 2004 Michael Jackson is officially charged with child molestation after a California grand jury determines there is enough evidence to proceed with allegations made against him for time spent at his Neverland Ranch.

November 20, 2003 After returning to his Neverland home following a raid on it a few days before, and in response to an arrest warrant, Michael Jackson is charged with child molestation in Santa Barbara, California. The singer is immediately released after posting three million dollars' bail.

November 18, 2003 Acting on the sexual abuse allegations of a 12-year-old boy who had visited the home, approximately 70 members of California's Santa Barbara County sheriff's and district attorney's offices raid Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The singer is in Vegas filming a video at the time.

February 20, 2003 A fire breaks out at a Great White concert in Rhode Island, killing 100 people, including the band's guitarist, Ty Longley.More

February 3, 2003 Phil Spector is charged with murder after police are called to his 33-room mansion in Alhambra, California, and discover the actress Lana Clarkson dead from a gunshot wound.More

December 29, 2002 Creed play a disastrous show in Chicago, leading four fans to sue the band, claiming lead singer Scott Stapp was either medicated or drunk, and "unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song." Stapp denies that he was drunk and claims rolling around on stage was an "Artistic Moment." The case is thrown out of court.

October 17, 2002 The Ronettes lose their case against Phil Spector, claiming they are owed royalties for songs used in movies, TV shows and commercials.More

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