- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2016

Led Zeppelin’s surviving members will defend “Stairway to Heaven” in a Los Angeles courthouse next month, contrary to recent claims made by an attorney pursuing copyright claims over the British rock group’s 1971 anthem, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Peter Anderson wrote in a memorandum filed on behalf of the band this week that guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones plan on appearing in person when infringement claims concerning “Stairway” are heard in federal court.

On Wednesday, promoters of a music festival in London said that Mr. Plant has canceled a June 19 performance to appear for legal proceedings in L.A.

In spite of recent claims made in court, however, Mr. Anderson said his clients had always planned on attending, and casted allegations suggesting otherwise as “a PR stunt” done by the the plaintiff “in the hope of tainting the jury pool.”

“Plaintiff, faced with a weak claim and an inability to delay the trial, now seeks to taint the jury pool by causing the press to repeat his false assertions that the individuals refuse to appear for trial and by hoping he can also claim the Court had to order their appearance,” the motion read in part. “Plaintiff’s gambit, and his ongoing efforts to try this case in the press, should be rejected.”

Specifically, Led Zeppelin’s attorney was responding to claims laid out in a motion to compel filed last week by Francis Malofiy, an attorney pursuing copyright claims concerning “Stairway” on behalf of the trustee who manages the estate of late Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe.

Mr. Malofiy says one of the main riffs in “Stairway” was stolen from a Spirit song, “Taurus,” and has accused the band of “serial plagiarism” in previous court filings. In last week’s motion he accused Led Zeppelin’s legal team of “causing havoc” by refusing to say when the musicians will be available for court, prompting the band’s attorney to respond Tuesday all but guaranteeing their appearance when proceedings finally are underway.

“Plaintiff’s motion is contrived,” Led Zeppelin’s attorney fired back. “Defendants’ counsel have advised that – even though not subpoenaed – Mr. Page and Mr. Plant fully intend to be present throughout the trial and Mr. Jones, now a non-party witness, will appear.”

“As defendants have repeatedly stated, the issue is not whether the individuals plan on appearing at trial, but rather that defendants and their counsel cannot guarantee anyone’s attendance on a specific day, especially when someone is coming from England,” he wrote.

Spirit and Led Zeppelin performed in the U.S. together at least three times in the 1960s. “Taurus” was released in 1967, four years before “Stairway” appeared on Led Zeppelin’s eponymous fourth album and eventually became one of the genre’s most well-acclaimed songs. Wolfe died by drowning in 1997, and the lawsuit was filed in 2014 on behalf of the trust established in his name after Led Zeppelin IV was re-released.

“There simply is no merit to plaintiff’s attempt to pursue a 45-year-old claim that the actual copyright owner and Randy Wolfe never bothered to file,” Mr. Anderson wrote in a footnote to Tuesday’s filing. 

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