LOS ANGELES (CN) – In what will be a disappointment to Led Zeppelin fans hoping to get a close-up look at rock idols Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, an attorney on Monday said that the two men refuse to appear as in-person witnesses at trial scheduled to begin next month.
Page and Plant are challenging the 2014 claims of Randy Craig Wolfe Trust trustee Michael Skidmore that “Stairway to Heaven” infringes on the song “Taurus,” created by Wolfe and his band Spirit in 1967.
“Stairway” appeared on Led Zeppelin’s fourth untitled album, also known as “Led Zeppelin IV.”
With a jury trial slated to begin next month, attorneys for Led Zeppelin and Skidmore convened at the Edward R. Roybal courthouse in the Los Angeles civic center on Monday for a pretrial conference before U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner.
Klausner ruled earlier this month that the Wolfe’s trustee had alleged enough substantial similarities between to the two songs under copyright law for the case to proceed to trial.
The judge has also issued more than a dozen tentative rulings on pretrial motions and outlined several procedural matters at the morning hearing.
He said he is inclined to exclude assertions that Led Zeppelin had engaged in “systematic plagiarism” by allegedly copying parts of as many as 20 other songs.
But Skidmore’s attorney Francis Malofiy dropped the biggest bombshell of the otherwise mundane proceedings when he said that surviving Led Zeppelin members Page, Plant and nonparty John Paul Jones had stated that they would refuse to testify about alleged similarities between the two songs.
Outside the courtroom, Malofiy told reporters that members were “hiding behind counsel in the U.K.” and refusing to appear at trial on jurisdictional grounds.
When asked why Page and Plant were refusing to appear, Malofiy replied: “It would be damaging for them,” adding, “Right now, they’re hiding out in the hills.”
Led Zeppelin attorney Peter Anderson declined to comment after the hearing.
The four-to-five-day jury trial is scheduled to begin on May 10.
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