Led Zeppelin Want Legal Fees Covered in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Court Case
Almost one year after Led Zeppelin beat a lawsuit that contended they stole the opening riff from their most well-known song, "Stairway to Heaven," from the Spirit song "Taurus," the legendary rock outfit is seeking to have their legal costs covered.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Zeppelin's attorney Peter Anderson has responded to a 90-page appeal filed in March by Francis Malofiy, who represented Michael Skidmore, the trustee who sued the band on behalf of late Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe's estate. Anderson's filing reads, "Substantial evidence supports the jury's verdict and Skidmore's appeal has absolutely no merit."
Furthermore, Anderson filed an appeal of his own, asking the 9th Circuit to not only affirm last year's judgment, but to reverse U.S. District Court judge R. Gary Klausner's order regarding fees. The attorney also represents publisher Warner/Chappell Music, which carried the financial burden of nearly all of the legal fees for the defense. Now he is asking for the plaintiffs to pay up instead.
Last August, Judge Klausner denied Warner/Chappell's request for an award of $800,000 in fees and costs, declaring the lawsuit not frivolous or objectively unreasonable, even in light of the litigation misconduct by Skidmore's attorney. Anderson claims the judge was mistaken in treating that misconduct in the same respect as the "Fogerty factors," a set of standards established in 1994 to evaluating fee awards in copyright cases in a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court case involving singer John Fogerty.
"The District Court - without considering whether its ruling furthered the purposes of the Copyright Act - identified the following Fogerty factors: '(1) 'the degree of success obtained on the claim,' (2) 'frivolousness;' (3) 'motivation;' (4) 'objective reasonableness of factual and legal arguments;' and (5) 'need for compensation and deterrence,'" Anderson's cross-appeal reads. "However, the District Court erred on the law and the record, and all of the Fogerty factors favor awarding attorneys’ fees."
Anderson argues that the severity of the aforementioned litigation misconduct as an unofficial sixth Fogerty shouldn't be the case.
"Defendants respectfully submit that the District Court’s Judgment and Amended Judgment should be affirmed and that the District Court’s Order denying Warner/Chappell’s motions for attorneys’ fees and additional costs should be reversed with instructions to grant those motions," Anderson writes. "In addition, and including because Skidmore continues to advance frivolous arguments and misstate the law...defendants should recover their costs and attorneys’ fees on appeal."
The bottom line? Zep won the case, and now they don't think they should be on the hook for monies of any sort.
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