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US Supreme Court Eliminates Laches Defense in Virtually All Copyright Infringement Claims

In Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the US Supreme Court resolved a circuit split and ruled that the equitable defense of laches does not bar a plaintiff's claim for damages brought within the Copyright Act's three-year statute of limitations.[1] The Court held that the owner of a screenplay could seek to recover damages from a movie studio for the film Raging Bull after waiting 18 years to file suit.[2] In doing so, the Court all but eliminated the laches defense in copyright infringement actions and established a precedent that allows copyright owners to seek damages even if they waited many years to bring suit and the defendant invested significant resources in reliance on that delay.

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[1] - Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 572 U.S. __, slip op. at 1 (2014).
[2] - Id. at 11 – 22.


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