Members of LED ZEPPELIN are among the musicians who are taking a music memorabilia web site owner to court, claiming he is illegally selling vintage recordings and memorabilia.
The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California against William Sagan, who operates a web site, WolfgangsVault.com, through which he is allegedly promoting and selling these materials in violation of federal and state laws.
Sagan acquired the memorabilia when he purchased certain assets of the late legendary concert promoter Bill Graham from Clear Channel Entertainment, which acquired Graham's concert promotion company after his death. Graham's archives contained millions of promotional items and personal memorabilia, such as vintage concert posters and t-shirts featuring the musical artists' intellectual property — their names, voices, likenesses, photographs, trademarks and copyrights — which were never authorized for sale.
Sagan has continued to expand his allegedly unlawful practices by offering reproductions of these items for sale, including "reprints" of vintage concert posters and a new line of baby clothing featuring the artists' names and protected trademarks. In addition, to increase sales of these materials, Sagan is streaming allegedly illegal recordings of live concerts performed by the artists to the public on his web site and is offering to "license" these recordings to other parties.
The artists — Grateful Dead Productions, Carlos Santana, and the members of LED ZEPPELIN and THE DOORS — are represented by Jeff Reeves and Ashlie Beringer, lawyers with the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
"Sagan simply doesn't have the legal rights to exploit and profit from the extraordinary success of these musicians," said Jeff Reeves, who represents the musicians. "This memorabilia was created in the first place for the purposes of promoting concerts and as gifts for fans and concert crew. Graham himself did not have the right to sell, reproduce or otherwise exploit these materials as a promoter, and neither does Sagan, who was not authorized to purchase these materials and who has absolutely no connection to the artists or their music."
"We have never given permission for our images and material to be used in this way," said Bob Weir of the GRATEFUL DEAD. "What Sagan is doing is stealing. He is stealing what is most important to us — our work, our images and our music — and is profiting from the good will of our fans."
"Bill Graham was a man of great integrity who cared very deeply about the artists he worked with as a manager and promoter," said Grammy-award winning musician Carlos Santana, one of the artists — along with his namesake band Santana — affected by William Sagan's activities on WolfgangsVault.com. "Bill was a close friend to me and the SANTANA BAND for many years, and I know that what Sagan is doing would go against everything he believed in. I am fully committed to joining with other artists to protect our work, our rights and our legacy."