Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and frontman Robert Plant thanked a Los Angeles jury Thursday for ruling they did not steal the opening to their rock classic Stairway to Heaven.

"We are grateful for the jury's conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of Stairway to Heaven and confirming what we have known for 45 years," they said in a statement published by US media.

"We appreciate our fans' support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us."

The jury in federal district court in Los Angeles deliberated for less than a day over accusations that the British rockers lifted part of Stairway to Heaven, released in 1971, from Taurus, an earlier tune by US rock band Spirit.

With little apparent debate, they found that while Page and Plant had "access" to Taurus - meaning they may have known the song - there was no substantial similarity between the two compositions, according to the jury verdict.

Plant and Page testified in court that they wrote Stairway to Heaven alone and that the musical elements it shared with Taurus were common building blocks used in Western music for centuries.

The verdict is a bitter defeat for the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, which alleged that Led Zeppelin heard Spirit's song Taurus when the two promising bands knew each other in the late 1960s, then copied it and made it famous.

Attorney Francis Malofiy told media in the courtroom that Led Zeppelin had won on a "technicality" and blamed Judge R Gary Klausner's decision to bar official sound recordings of the two songs for the defeat.

"We proved they had access to the music, but the jury never heard the music," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

US copyright law before 1976 protects sheet music, not sound recordings. Some observers have noted that sound recordings of the two songs show more apparent similarities than the sheet music versions admitted at trial.

But Klausner banned the recordings on the grounds they could "confuse" the jury.

Malofiy was barred from making reference to Led Zeppelin's history of lifting music and lyrics from other musicians.

Confronted with legal actions, the band has over decades changed songwriting credit on several of its best-known songs including Whole Lotta Love, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and Dazed and Confused.

Wolfe's estate had wanted Plant and Page to give Wolfe songwriting credit on Stairway to Heaven, and with it a share of future royalties. The verdict means Stairway to Heaven and the millions it has earned remain in the hands of Led Zeppelin.

Claims of copying are not uncommon in pop music, where inspiration, sampling and outright theft coexist in shades of gray.

In addition to Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, John Lennon, Coldplay and Rod Stewart are among those who have settled claims of plagiarism over hit songs.

Few such lawsuits reach a jury, and some of the most famous of those cases have not ended well for big-name performers.

The late Beatle George Harrison had to pay nearly 1.6 million dollars after a jury found he had unintentionally plagiarized The Chiffons' He's So Fine in his 1971 solo song My Sweet Lord.

Last year, a jury ordered Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to pay heirs of soul singer Marvin Gaye 7.3 million dollars for borrowing from Gaye's 1977 song Got to Give It Up in their 2013 hit Blurred Lines. The award was reduced by a judge to 5.3 million dollars; Williams and Thicke have appealed the decision.

Led Zeppelin's case was the latest of these cases, but not the last - earlier this month, two California songwriters sued British pop star Ed Sheeran for 20 million dollars over his song Photograph.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.