Laches – (a) time limits on certain types of claims, (b) from French laschesse, slackness, allows a judste to use common sense and fairness to determine circumstances related to a delay of action. Copyright claims in civil cases have no statute of limitation.
Case between Petrella vs Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is considering the time it took (3 years) to complain about copyright for film Raging Bull. Grounds for the change are based on the statute of limitations, laches doctrine and copyright infringement. In 1976, a 3 year limitation was enacted, changing former flexibility to use area jurisdiction practice. Some bar injunctive relief but not damages. The 9th Circuit is taking the position for both damages and injunctive relief in copyright cases. Each distribution of an infringing use is a separate act of copyright violation. With a three year limitation, a perpetual violation could only be brought for judgement by the last three years. Copyright actions need to take place within three years in order for justice to be appropriately served.
Heirs of authors, in this case the daughter of Peter Petrella who sold movie rights of his 1976 book in 1980 – Raging Bull. Ten years later, the Supreme Court which rarely has had much satisfaction in copyright determinations, held that in Steward vs Abend, copyright reverts to heirs. Thus, Petrella discovered her rights and entitlement to profits from the film. But she waited until 1998 to contact distributors of the film, then, in 2009 filed a suit – the 30th anniversary DVD was released. Court felt Petrella sat too long on her assets. October 1, the Supreme Court granted her petition for review.
Kluft, David. (10/8/13). Rolling with the Punches: a blow-by-blow account of the Supreme court’s copyright laches case. JDSUPRA Law News. Retrieved from http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/rolling-with-the-punches-a-blow-of-the-supreme-court’s