Led Zeppelin publishers seek $613,000 for Stairway trial

A picture of Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (Image credit: Getty)

Publishing company Warner/Chappell Music are seeking $613,000 in legal fees for the recent Led Zeppelin Stairway To Heaven copyright trial.

Warner/Chappell asked for the money for defending Led Zep against plagiarism claims and accused the attorney who filed the case of “gross misconduct,” according to Courthouse News.

The jury in the six-day trial ruled that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarise the opening chords of Stairway To Heaven from Spirit track Taurus.

Now Warner/Chappell wants to claim back the $613,000 in legal fees it says it spent defending the claim, which was led by solicitor Francis Malofiy.

Malofiy – who was representing Michael Skidmore, the trustee for late Spirit guitarist Randy California – has since been been suspended for three months over his conduct in an earlier rights trial.

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 Malofiy and Skidmore filed thousands of documents “that no reasonable person could believe would be admissible” and caused “confusion throughout the trial.”

One of the examples put forward by Warner/Chappell centres on a claim that Malofiy played jurors a recorded interview of Led Zep bassist John Paul Jones, which he said was recorded in 1972, just after Stairway to Heaven was written, though the interview was actually recorded 20 years later.

Warner/Chappell also claims that Malofiy showed the jury a doctored photo which appeared to show Robert Plant speaking with former Spirit bass player Mark Andes, in an attempt to show Led Zep had access to the the track Taurus.

Warner/Chappell’s claim will be heard at a later court date.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.