United States Supreme Court

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Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 12-1315

In an copyright infringement action brought by plaintiff-copyright owner, who inherited the rights to her father's screenplay, which he had assigned to defendant's predecessor for the film "Raging Bull" in 1976, and which plaintiff renewed to become the sole owner in 1991, summary judgment in favor of defendants is reversed and remanded, where: 1) although plaintiff's suit was brought 18 years after her renewal of the copyright, laches cannot be invoked as a bar to plaintiff's pursuit of a claim for damages brought within the Copyright Act's three-year window, i.e. after 2006; 2) while laches cannot be invoked to preclude adjudication of a claim for damages brought within the Copyright Act's three-year window, in extraordinary circumstances, laches may, at the very outset of the litigation, curtail the relief equitably awarded; and here, 3) no such extraordinary circumstance is present here because plaintiff notified defendant of her copyright claims before defendant invested millions of dollars in creating a new edition of Raging Bull, and the equitable relief she seeks, disgorgement of unjust gains and an injunction against future infringement, would not result in anything like "total destruction" of the film.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 05/19/2014
  • Published 05/19/2014

Judges

  • GINSBURG

Court

  • United States Supreme Court

Counsel