June 22, 2016In the News

Jeff Brown discusses Led Zeppelin copyright case in New York Post

New York Post

Michael Best Attorney Jeffrey H. Brown was quoted in the New York Post article "Jury will decide who came up with 'Stairway to Heaven' riff" on June 22, 2016.

The fate of one of rock’s most revered and rewarded opening riffs is now in the hands of a jury charged with determining if Led Zeppelin ripped off the introduction to “Stairway to Heaven.”

The eight jurors started deliberating in a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday after hearing closing arguments as barbed as any made during the trial’s five days.

Francis Malofiy, who represented the estate of the former Spirit frontman Randy “California” Craig Wolfe, dismissed Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant as “session musicians” — who played rather than created the iconic intro to “Stairway” after hearing the Wolfe creation “Taurus.”

Zeppelin lawyer Peter Anderson couldn’t help comparing his clients’ success with the single gold album produced by Wolfe’s band, noting that “Taurus” wasn’t even on it.

“‘I Got a Line on You’ may be the only song that we remember — if we remember any of them,” Anderson said of Spirit’s discography.

The comment drew a gasp from Wolfe’s sisters sitting in the front row, according to a Billboard report.

“Give credit where credit is due,” Malofiy countered. “We’re asking for one-third credit.”

He then pled for the jury to assign $3.4 million to $13.5 million to the Wolfe estate — a far cry from “Stairway’s” earnings estimate of $562 million since its release in 1971.

“The fear is a Spirit victory will embolden songwriters to pursue all sorts of legal claims,” said Jeff Brown, an intellectual property lawyer at Michael Best & Friedrich.

Brown noted the same fears cropped up after Motown legend Marvin Gaye’s family won $5.3 million last year in a copy-infringement claim against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over “Blurred Lines.”

“But the truth is the Gaye family had $3.5 million in legal fees — a big deterrent to almost every songwriter out there,” Brown said.

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