Raging Battle Over Copyright
The IP bar is hanging on a dispute over the rights to a classic movie.
He adds that, when a claimant waits 18 years to file suit "and this unreasonable delay inflicts actual economic and evidentiary prejudice on the defendants, a district court has ample discretion to bar the claim under the doctrine of laches, as the Ninth Circuit correctly concluded."
The California Society of Entertainment Lawyers, a newly formed nonprofit organization of lawyers representing creators, filed an amicus brief supporting Petrella's petition. It argues that the decision is symptomatic of the Ninth Circuit's broader hostility to copyright plaintiffs and cites doctrines and case law that the circuit has distorted or failed to follow.
Steven Lowe of Los Angeles' Lowe & Associates, one of the group's founders, has compiled data on literary copyright infringement cases in the Ninth Circuit. He reported in a 2010 Los Angeles Lawyer article that studios or networks won all 29 cases decided between 1990 and 2010.
"We've also looked at the Second Circuit," he said. "They're pretty much running neck and neck with the Ninth."
The laches question is not an easy one, according to Irell & Manella's Nimmer. "Usually, I can read a copyright case and say the plaintiff obviously wins, or the defendant obviously wins. I can see both sides on this one."
Difficult legally for the lawyers; easy emotionally for Paula Petrella. "To me, this case has always been about protecting my late father's legacy, of which Raging Bull is a big part," she said. "I hope that my case will give writers a fighting chance against the movie studios by guaranteeing them the copyright protection intended by Congress."
Contact Marcia Coyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.