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Led Zeppelin Loses First Round in 'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit



Led Zeppelin is stuck in Pennsylvania at the moment, forced to confront claims the band stole its biggest hit "Stairway to Heaven" from Randy Craig Wolfe, founding member of the band Spirit.

Wolfe's heirs sued Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and their music companies in June, asserting that the story Page has told over the years about holing himself up in a remote cottage in Wales in 1970 and creating the iconic song is false. The plaintiff alleges that the music really came from Spirit, which once toured with Led Zeppelin in the late 1960s.

In reaction to the lawsuit, the defendants challenged jurisdiction.

"The individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at home here," stated a memorandum to dismiss.

In response, the plaintiff amended the lawsuit with some emphasis on why a Pennsylvania judge should oversee the case: "Defendants are subject to specific jurisdiction in this district because they make millions of dollars from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by directly targeting this district for the exploitation of 'Stairway to Heaven' through CD sales, digital downloading, radio and television play, advertising, marketing, concert performances, other performances, licensing, and otherwise targeting resident individuals and businesses to profit off the exploitation of 'Stairway to Heaven.'”

U.S. District Court Judge Juan Sánchez has now denied the motion to dismiss or transfer without prejudice, meaning that the Zeppelin parties can still try again.

The judge didn't offer any reasoning in his written order, but those looking for the standards by which judges determine jurisdiction can read about another judge's recent decision to throw out a trademark lawsuit filed by John Wayne's heirs against Duke University.

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From: The Hollywood Reporter
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

July xx, 1969 - The band play many festivals now on their third American tour
July xx, 1970 - Additional recording for Led Zeppelin III at London’s Island Studios
July 16, 1970 - Photographer Chris Welch films Led Zeppelin on his 8mm camera, some clips later used in the Whole Lotta Love promo video
July xx, 1971 - Untitled gets re-mixed in London
July 05, 1971 - A riot erupts mid-concert, forcing Led Zeppelin to stop after about 40 minutes
July xx, 1972 - After repeated bad press, Led Zeppelin hire their first publicity firm
July 20, 1973 - A last minute decision is made to film the remaining part of the tour
July xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin is filmed over the three nights for their film that will emerge as The Song Remains The Same
July xx, 1974 - After viewing their 1973 filmed performance, it is apparent critical errors were made
July xx, 1974 - Mixing for Physical Graffiti at Olympic Studios
July 05, 1975 - The band meet in Montreux to discuss adding South America and Japan to the end of their North American tour
July xx, 1976 - Bonham and Page fly to Montreux, Switzerland to check out some new sound and drum effects
July 17, 1977 - The last ever performance of Moby Dick played at the Seattle Kingdome
July 24, 1977 - The band plays its last US date at the Oakland Coliseum
July xx, 1978 - Led Zeppelin are invited to perform at Maggie Bell’s Festival Hall show
July xx, 1979 - Led Zeppelin film their rehearsal at Bray Studios
July 04, 1979 - Led Zeppelin confirm a second date at Knebworth in August 1979
July 05, 1980 - Simon Kirke joins in on drums for an encore in Munich
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