Led Zep Plaintiff Lawyer: 'Case Was Tried in an Alternate Reality'

Led Zep Plaintiff Lawyer: 'Case Was Tried in an Alternate Reality'

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Led Zep Plaintiff Lawyer: 'Case Was Tried in an Alternate Reality' news

Attorney Francis Malofiy, the lawyer for the plaintiff that brought a copyright lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, has responded to the verdict. On Thursday, a Los Angeles jury ruled in the legendary group’s favor, shooting down the allegation that the band had plagiarized the music to “Stairway to Heaven.” On Thursday a Los Angeles jury ruled in the legendary group’s favor. The suit was filed in 2014 on behalf of the estate of Spirit late guitarist Randy Wolfe who performed as Randy California, and asserted that the song borrowed from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus.” 

“For Led Zeppelin, they won on a technicality – they should be proud of that,” Malofiy tells Rolling Stone in an email. “For Plaintiff, the jury’s verdict is disappointing, but largely determined by one ruling of the court: Plaintiff was not permitted to play the album recording of Taurus, which Jimmy Page had in his record collection. This ruling, which limited Plaintiff to using the sheet music deposited in the Copyright Office, effectively tied our hands behind our back. Needless to say, we do not believe it is legally correct or logically sound.”

The jury was not legally allowed to hear the original recordings of “Stairway to Heaven” or “Taurus” when determining their verdict. What they heard in the courtroom instead was an expert perform both songs based on the original sheet music.

Malofiy asserts that the “very basic piece of sheet music” had not been seen by anyone involved in the case, including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. “In essence, this case was tried in an alternate reality. The jury never heard the album recording of ‘Taurus’ that Jimmy Page heard and used to create ‘Stairway to Heaven,'” he says, adding that it “bore little relation to the reality of the claim.”

While the jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin, Malofiy says that the jury was on the plaintiff’s side for a seemingly crucial aspect during the trial. “The jury agreed very clearly with Plaintiff that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had access to ‘Taurus,’ and discounted their denials that they had never heard ‘Taurus’ before,” Malofiy says. “For Led Zeppelin the case was about their legacy and reputation; for Randy California it was about credit. In this regard, neither party won.”

“Justice is sweet and musical,” Malofiy says. “Here, there was injustice.”

Read the full statement below.

Justice is about the search for the truth; it escaped us. 

For Led Zeppelin, they won on a technicality—they should be proud of that.

For Plaintiff the jury’s verdict is disappointing, but largely determined by one ruling of the court: Plaintiff was not permitted to play the album recording of Taurus, which Jimmy Page had in his record collection. This ruling, which limited Plaintiff to using the sheet music deposited in the Copyright Office, effectively tied our hands behind our back. Needless to say, we do not believe it is legally correct or logically sound.

In essence, this case was tried in an alternate reality. The jury never heard the album recording of Taurus that Jimmy Page heard and used to create Stairway to Heaven. Instead it heard a very basic piece of sheet music that no one, including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, had ever seen. It was an artificial comparison that bore little relation to the reality of the claim.

It is important to realize, however, that the jury agreed very clearly with Plaintiff that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had access to Taurus, and discounted their denials that they had never heard Taurus before. For Led Zeppelin the case was about their legacy and reputation; for Randy California it was about credit. In this regard, neither party won.

Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant.

Here there was injustice.

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