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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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September 07, 1968 - The band fulfills some old Yardbirds dates in Scandanavia
September xx, 1969 - Jimmy Page is reported saying the second album will be harder than the first
September 19, 1970 - Led Zeppelin gross over $100,000 for two performances at Madison Square Gardens on the same day
September xx, 1971 - Jimmy Page is furious over a live Yardbirds release. It was forced off the shelves
September xx, 1971 - The band vacations in Hawaii
September xx, 1972 - Discussions to play various countries ends with a decision to play Japan again
September xx, 1973 - Jimmy Page considers a live release of material before releasing a new album
September 14, 1974 - Led Zeppelin and CSN&Y jam at an after party
September xx, 1975 - Jimmy meets up with Robert in Malibu, where he is staying on a tax exile
September 12, 1976 - Page and Bonham return to Switzerland and record a drum piece title Bonzo’s Montreux
September 08, 1977 - Page takes to the stage with other well knowns at a WEA records sales conference
September 15, 1978 - Zep road manager Richard Cole and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke get married in a double ceremony
September 17, 1979 - Promoter Fred Bannister forced into liquidation over Knebworth Sales with Led Zeppelin
September 18, 1980 - Jimmy reviews a new stage set up and technical details for the Eighties Part One tour at Swan Song offices
September 25, 1980 - John Bonham is found dead in Jimmy Page’s Windsor mansion by sound technician Benji Le Fevre
September 12, 2007 - It was announced at a press conference by Harvey Goldsmith that the remaining members of Led Zeppelin would reunite with Jason Bonham on drums.
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