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Rock groups press fight for rights to music, memorabilia

September 13, 2007|From Bloomberg News

The Grateful Dead, the Doors, Led Zeppelin and Carlos Santana asked a judge to force a music archive to turn over thousands of documents and recordings they say are key to their fight over memorabilia and music rights.

The archive, sued by the musicians last year for alleged copyright and trademark infringement, failed to turn over about half of the documents it was ordered to produce, according to papers filed Tuesday in federal court in San Jose.

The Bill Graham Archive, based in San Francisco, and its chief executive, William Sagan, "failed to produce volumes of documents critical to this case and steadfastly refuse to commit to any deadline for doing so," the rock acts said. "Five months of foot-dragging and stonewalling is seriously prejudicing plaintiffs' ability to litigate."

The musicians, including Led Zeppelin, which announced Wednesday that its members would reunite for one concert, allege that the archive's online recordings and retail sales violate their intellectual property and publicity rights. The archive said its activities were legal because it owns the rights to the music.

Judge Patricia Trumbull is scheduled to consider the musicians' request at a hearing Tuesday. The disputed documents cover who made the recordings and how the rights were acquired.

Michael Elkin, the archive's attorney, said the musicians failed to produce their own documents in the case.

"We're not in violation of any court order to produce documents," Elkin, of Winston & Strawn, said in a phone interview. "This motion is nothing more than a smoke screen to hide the fact that the music groups haven't produced their own documents."

Sagan bought memorabilia and concert tapes created and collected by the late concert promoter Bill Graham for about $6 million. Sagan's website,, sells the items and offers free concerts as streaming audio broadcasts.

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