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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

May 31, 1948 - John Henry Bonham was born at Redditch, Worchestershire
May xx, 1969 - The band’s debut album enters the US Top 10
May xx, 1969 - Recording sessions for Led Zeppelin II begin
May xx, 1970 - The band works on new material at Bron-Y-Aur
May 03, 1971 - Richard Cole jams on Whole Lotta Love playing congas
May xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy recording sessions on location at Stargroves and Olympic studios
May 27, 1972 - Warm-up gigs kick off in Holland for an upcoming American tour
May 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin gross nearly $250,000 for their performance in Atlanta, GA
May 05, 1973 - 56,800 attend the second show of the 1973 US tour at Tampa. This sets a record for the largest attendance for a one-act performance, previously held by the Beatlesfor their Shea Stadium show in 1965
May 10, 1974 - Swan Song Records is officially launched
May 11, 1974 - Led Zeppelin attend an Elvis concert and are thrilled when Elvis announces that Led Zeppelin is in the building
May 10, 1975 - Showco ships their PA system and video screens for the Earls Court shows from Dallas to London
May 23, 1976 - Page and Plant join Bad Company onstage at the LA Forum
May 21, 1977 - The Houston Summit claims $500,000 in damages to their venue caused by rowdy fans
May xx, 1978 - The band reunite at Clearwater Castle to rehearse
May 22, 1979 - It is officially announce that Led Zeppelin will headline at the Knebworth Festival in August
May 15, 1980 - After many revisions the European tour dates are finalized and the band is scheduled to open in Germany
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