Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Led Zeppelin Copyright Case Heats Up as Lawyers Clash Over Music Experts

Written by Tim Kenneally — Attorneys for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page claim they’re being prevented from deposing music experts in “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit.

The lawyers for Led Zeppelin are taking a page from the Marvin Gaye songbook and asking a court, “Can we get a witness?”

The copyright infringement case revolving around Led Zeppelin’s iconic tune “Stairway to Heaven” took a heated turn on Monday, when the group’s attorneys filed papers claiming that the opposing side is improperly trying to block them from deposing the plaintiff’s music experts.

Led Zeppelin is being sued by Michael Skidmore, the trustee for Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe — a.k.a. Randy California, who died in 1997 — for copyright infringement. Skidmore contends that “Stairway” infringes on the Spirit song “Taurus.”

According to the papers filed by Team Zep, a judge made four of Skidmore’s music experts file new expert reports after deeming the first reports inadmissible.

The new reports were submitted on May 2, Monday’s filing says — but, Zeppelin’s lawyers claim, Skidmore’s side is refusing to make the experts available for deposition.

Led Zeppelin’s lawyers say that unless a judge intervenes, their side will be “substantially prejudiced by proceeding to trial without the ability to depose plaintiff’s experts as to the new reports.”

The trial, initially slated for May, has been pushed to June.

The dispute arises from a difference in interpretation of the court schedule; according to the group’s lawyers, Skidmore’s team is asserting that the expert depositions needed to be completed by February 11, the cut-off date for discovery, while Led Zeppelin’s team contends that that date doesn’t pertain to expert depositions.

According to the papers, going by the interpretation of Skidmore’s side, Zeppelin’s attorneys would be required to compete the depositions just one day after receiving initial expert disclosures “and a month before receiving rebuttal reports. Under plaintiff’s view, no expert could be deposed in this action.”

On Tuesday, Skidmore’s attorneys filed an opposition to the Zeppelin team’s Monday filing, accusing them of being “self-serving.”

“Defendants did not take Plaintiff’s expert’s depositions by February 11, 2016,” the opposition reads. “They now make the self-serving and unsupported argument that the discovery deadline set by the court in the Scheduling Order did not apply to expert discovery.”

The opposition continues, “But Defendants’ self-professed ‘reasonable interpretation’ of the Rules and Scheduling Order is not reasonable or correct.”

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