LED ZEPPELIN LOSES FIRST ROUND IN “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN” PLAGIARISM SUIT
Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter reports:
Led Zeppelin is stuck in Pennsylvania at the moment, forced to confront claims 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. To hear the song in question, please click here.
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.
Oh by the way, the name of the song is TAURUS and it is a nice meditative instrumental. If Page was “influenced” by it then he has good taste. I only listen to music for enjoyment and could care less about the personal lives of rockers or their money. How much do these SPIRIT people want? A million bucks? That seems fair and I doubt it will hurt the ZEPPELIN empire. Also give Wolfe a writing credit and that’s that. Once, I heard a 4th of July countdown that listed NIGHT MOVES by BOB SEGER as #1 ahead of STAIRWAY, FREEBIRD etc. and I thought awesome. Out of the box for sure. I actually prefer WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS over STAIRWAY and my #1 is SGT. PEPPER.