Led Zeppelin publishers Warner/Chappell Music are seeking $613,000 in attorneys' fees for successfully defending the band in the recent "Stairway To Heaven" copyright infringement lawsuit.
A claim that the acoustic introduction to 1971’s “Stairway” was lifted from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental, “Taurus”, was brought by Randy California's estate and members of the band by trustee Michael Skidmore, with a jury clearing Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of any wrongdoing.
Courthouse News reports Warner/Chappell Music have asked the Federal Court for attorneys' fees, citing "extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct" on behalf of the Plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy.
The publishers claim, among other things, that Malofiy began by filing the complaint in the wrong court, in Pennsylvania, and that his misconduct continued throughout the trial in Los Angeles.
Warner/Chappell says: "Plaintiff's Philadelphia counsel's misconduct in this case is a continuation of the misconduct that earned him a substantial monetary sanction as well as a three-months-and-a-day suspension in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. ('Throughout this copyright litigation, plaintiff's counsel, Francis Malofiy, has behaved in a flagrantly unprofessional and offensive manner.') Plaintiff, having chosen his Philadelphia counsel despite the charges and pending suspension, ratified his counsel's ongoing misconduct in this action."
Warner/Chappell claims that Skidmore, through his counsel, filed thousands of documents "that no reasonable person could believe would be admissible" and renumbered exhibits "causing confusion throughout the trial", while claiming Malofiy misrepresented historical facts and presented edited images to create false impressions that the Zeppelin members had access to Spirit band members and, thus, the song “Taurus.”
The publishers say the court should award it attorney fees to "encourage and reward the litigation of a meritorious defense."
The Warner/Chappell request is expected to be heard in a California federal court at a later date.
The two-week trial saw Page, Plant and non-defendant John Paul Jones take the stand to deny exposure to “Taurus” while explaining the creation of “Stairway” at Headley Grange.
"We are grateful for the jury's conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of 'Stairway to Heaven' and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” said Page and Plant. “We appreciate our fans' support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”
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