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Led Zeppelin Accused of ‘Pure Fishing Expedition’ in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit



Attorneys for group blasted for requesting "irrelevant" documentation in copyright dispute

As any Led Zeppelin fan knows, the group has long been associated with one legendarily impure fishing expedition. And now they're being accused of engaging in a pure one.

In the latest turn in the "Stairway to Heaven" copyright saga, the group was accused of undertaking a "pure fishing expedition" in legal papers filed Tuesday.

In the filing, attorneys for plaintiff Michael Skidmore - trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust which, according to the papers, owns Wolfe's copyrights - blast Team Zeppelin for questioning the validity of the trust.

"There is no evidence to cast even the slightest bit of shade on the validity of the Trust, nor have Defendants argued that there is any real reason to doubt the validity of the Trust," the papers read. "This is a pure fishing expedition."

Skidmore brought the suit, claiming that Zeppelin's rock classic "Stairway to Heaven" infringes on the song "Taurus" by the group Spirit, of which Wolfe (nom de rock: Randy California) was an original member. Wolfe died in 1997.

Led Zeppelin's camp contends that the Wolfe trust is only valid if it is a qualified charitable foundation or other qualified entity, and claims that Skidmore's legal team hasn't provided evidence to that effect. Zeppelin's lawyers are asking Skidmore's team to provide proof, such as "all Internal Revenue Service notices or correspondence qualifying the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust as a charitable foundation or other qualified entity."

The plaintiff's side contends that it has already provided all the proof that's necessary, and that the Zeppelin team's request for further documentation is "overly broad, vague, irrelevant, not calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence, and unduly burdensome."

They also say that nobody has ever questioned the validity of the trust, and "because Defendants are not the beneficiaries of the Trust they have no legal authority or standing to challenge the validity of the Trust."

According to the filing, Skidmore claims that the trust's receipts "are used to donate musical instruments for schoolchildren in Ventura County."

From: The Wrap
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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