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Led Zeppelin’s Lawyers Accuse Spirit of ‘Tainting the Jury Pool’ in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

As the copyright infringement lawsuit between Spirit and Led Zeppelin gets closer to its trial date, the defendants continue to fight back. Today (May 24), lawyers for Led Zeppelin suggested that Spirit are “playing to the press” and “tainting the jury pool.”

The Hollywood Reporter quotes a brief filed that reads, “Plaintiff’s motion is a PR stunt in the hope of tainting the jury pool. Despite being told that Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones fully intend to appear at the trial, plaintiff’s counsel misrepresented to the Court at the April 25, 2016 Pretrial Conference that Messrs. Page, Plant and Jones ‘are refusing to appear in this court in the claims against them,’ and plaintiff’s counsel repeated that misrepresentation to news cameras on the Courthouse steps, causing a flurry of press reports repeating plaintiff’s false accusation. When those reports died down, plaintiff triggered renewed reports of his misrepresentation by now filing a belated motion that is so devoid of merit it can only be seen as playing to the press.”

Although a U.S. District Judge’s ruling last month removed the last hurdle for the case to go to trial, Led Zeppelin’s lawyers once again voiced their opposition to the case, adding, “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.”

The estate of Randy Wolfe, whose stage name was Randy California, and former Spirit bassist Mark Andes are suing Led Zeppelin on the grounds that the introduction to “Stairway to Heaven” is very similar to their song, “Taurus,” that appeared on Spirit’s 1968 debut. Led Zeppelin’s first U.S. concert was as Spirit’s opening act. The plaintiff’s lawyers have said that they would be willing to settle the case for $1 and a share of the songwriting royalties. The trial is expected to begin June 14.

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