Intellectual Property Law

Attorney in 'Stairway to Heaven' case asks to compel attendance from Led Zeppelin stars

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in 2012. Featureflash /

An attorney suing Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement has asked a Los Angeles judge to compel the attendance of the band’s biggest stars, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog.

Attorney Francis Malofiy represents the estate of Randy Wolfe, the former guitarist for the band Spirit, who performed as Randy California. Wolfe’s estate argues that Led Zeppelin lifted the iconic opening riff of “Stairway to Heaven” from Wolfe’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus.” Trial is set in Los Angeles for June 14.

Attorneys for Led Zeppelin told Malofiy May 6 that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page will come, but they can’t guarantee exactly when, because they will be coming from Britain. That wasn’t good enough for Malofiy, who brought a motion to compel their attendance Tuesday. He wrote to the court that the defendants lack common courtesy and are “disregarding the difficulties in presenting multiple fact and expert witnesses in a narrow band of time of approximately six hours.”

Malofiy noted that Page and Plant consented to California jurisdiction when they moved the trial from Philadelphia, where it was originally filed, and tour in California.

THR, Esq. notes that Malofiy may also be trying to cover his own mistake: He missed a deadline to provide marked transcripts of videotaped deposition testimony, showing what he intends to use at trial. That testimony could be important, since issues at trial could include whether Led Zeppelin had access to “Taurus” and whether Wolfe waived his right to object to copyright infringement.

Maolfiy also asked the judge to rule that he is entitled to use the deposition testimony.

Spirit and Led Zeppelin played shows together on the latter band’s first American tour in 1968, according to liner notes from the 1996 reissue of Spirit’s self-titled first album, the Sydney Morning Herald. “Stairway to Heaven” was released in 1971.

Wolfe was 17 during that tour. He died at 45, rescuing his son from a rip current, according to the Independent.

Related articles: “Judge allows infringement claim over Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’” “Led Zeppelin denies most allegations in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ suit, but admits ‘exceptional talent’”

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