Supreme Court allows copyright suit against MGM

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 6-3 Monday in Petrella v. MGM [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that a copyright suit against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) [corporate website] over recent profits from the 1980 film Raging Bull [IMDb backgrounder] may go forward. Paula Petrella, daughter of the original screenwriter, filed suit against MGM in 2009, arguing that she should be entitled to some of the profits from the film's re-release. A federal judge threw out her claim based on the doctrine of laches [Nolo definition], finding that she had waited too long to file suit, and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed [opinion]. Reversing the Ninth Circuit's ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority:

Laches, we hold, cannot be invoked to preclude adjudication of a claim for damages brought within the three-year window. As to equitable relief, in extraordinary circumstances, laches may bar at the very threshold the particular relief requested by the plaintiff. And a plaintiff's delay can always be brought to bear at the remedial stage, in determining appropriate injunctive relief, and in assessing the "profits of the infringer ... attributable to the infringement."
Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The court heard arguments in the case in January after granting certiorari [JURIST reports] in October. Monday's ruling resolves a split among the circuit courts.

 

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