Led Zeppelin Publisher Seeks Fees in ‘Stairway’ Case

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Led Zeppelin Stairway To HeavenThe Led Zeppelin plagiarism trial may be over, but legal maneuverings around it continue. The publisher of “Stairway to Heaven,” Warner/Chappell Music, is seeking some $800,000 to cover fees for lawyers and expert witnesses and trial-related transcripts from plaintiff Michael Skidmore.

An August 8th hearing has been scheduled. On June 23rd, “Stairway” writers Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were found to have not plagiarized a section of the song from the instrumental tune “Taurus” by the band Spirit. Skidmore handles the estate of Randy Wolfe, professionally known as Randy California, the late Spirit singer and guitarist who wrote the song.

Related: Led Zeppelin wins song-copying trial (with links to all our coverage)

Whether Warner/Chappel can recover those costs hinges on a recent Supreme Court ruling that outlines when fees can be ordered paid by plaintiffs in copyright infringement suits. Although in general, losing litigants in such legal actions are not on the hook to pay the legal and other fees incurred by the opposing party, the high court decision directs judges to consider awarding them in copyright cases after reviewing such factors as “frivolousness, motivation, objective unreasonableness, and the need in particular circumstances to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence” in the plaintiffs’ cases.

Related: “Stairway” trial lawyer suspended

Among the points that will possibly favor Warner/Chappell is how often trial judge R Gary Klausner admonished plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy conduct during the trial and Malofiy’s recent suspension from practicing law. As well, the over three-and-a-half decade gap between the recording and release of the songs could be a factor.

Skidmore is expected to file an appeal on the jury’s decision that the iconic Led Zeppelin song did not infringe on “Taurus.”

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