U.S. Supreme Court

'Raging Bull' copyright case will be heard by SCOTUS

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the daughter of Jake LaMotta’s biographer may sue the movie studios profiting from DVD sales of Raging Bull, the 1980 film about the boxer’s life.

The 2009 suit by Paula Petrella, daughter of biographer Frank “Peter” Petrella, alleges copyright infringement, report the New York Times, the Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. blog and the Los Angeles Times. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had tossed the case, saying Petrella waited too long to sue.

The suit would have been allowed under copyright law since the three-year limitations period is renewed with each infringement, the Times says. But the 9th Circuit dismissed the case based on the doctrine of laches, which bars legal claims that are unreasonably delayed. Petrella’s lawyers argue the dismissal violates separation of powers because Congress is responsible for setting the limitations period.

The case is Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. SCOTUSblog links to the cert petition (PDF).

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