×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Dispute Over ‘Raging Bull’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it would hear a case involving the rights to “Raging Bull.”

The case before the high court — brought by the daughter of one of Jake LaMotta’s friends and co-authors — isn’t about who owns the rights to the acclaimed story. Instead, it is a challenge to the way that lower courts dismissed Paula Petrella’s case against MGM. A district court and the 9th Circuit argued that she waited too long to bring the case — something called the doctrine of laches — but Petrella’s legal team argued that other circuits have rendered opposite judgments of whether such reasoning should apply.

The case has implications for entertainment because laches has been a way for studios to have certain claims of copyright ownership easily dismissed, particularly in the 9th Circuit which covers western states.

“If this laches defense is upheld, it is a very formidable defense that the studios would have to hoist if someone came out of the word work, so to speak,” said Jonathan B. Sokol, partner at Greenberg Glusker.

Petrella’s father, Frank “Peter” Petrella, worked in the early 60s and 70s on a book and two screenplays depicting LaMotta’s story, including projects called “The Raging Bull.” The elder Petrella died in 1981, but Paula Petrella in 1991 renewed the copyright to his 1963 screenplay. Yet she did not a copyright infringement claim against MGM until 2009. There is a three-year statute of limitations on copyright infringement claims, but lower courts dismissed the case, supporting the laches defense. At the heart of such a defense is the notion that a plaintiff can’t wait until a property starts making money — in this case, homevideo — to file a claim against an entity that has invested years of money and effort in exploiting it.

Petrella’s legal team, led by Stephanos Bibas, argued that the Supreme Court should hear the case because other circuit courts have concluded that a defense of laches cannot bar a copyright claim brought within the statute of limitations.

MGM had no comment, as did Petrella and her attorney, Bibas.

More Biz

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Some Weinstein Accusers Balk at $30 Million Settlement

    Some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers are not satisfied with a proposed $30 million settlement of their harassment claims, and may not agree to the deal, Variety has learned. Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case told Judge Mary Walrath on Thursday that they are close to a global resolution of the civil litigation. The accusers, [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Accusers Near Settlement in Bankruptcy Case

    Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case say they are getting close to reaching a settlement that would compensate Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct accusers. The company went bankrupt last year, as it faced hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and numerous civil suits on behalf of Weinstein’s alleged victims. The company sold to Lantern [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Rolling Stones Give up 'Bittersweet Symphony'

    Rolling Stones Give 'Bittersweet Symphony' Songwriter Royalties to the Verve's Richard Ashcroft

    UPDATED: Nearly 22 years after the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was released, the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have assigned to Richard Ashcroft the songwriter royalties and rights from the song, which samples one of their compositions, and removed their writing credits. The news was first reported by the BBC and New Musical Express. [...]

  • Pamela Anderson

    Pamela Anderson Fears Julian Assange 'Won't Survive' Extradition to U.S.

    After previously speaking out in support of her friend and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Pamela Anderson doesn’t think he would survive an extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. “I hope he gets out of there, but I don’t think he’ll survive extradition. It can’t happen. It’s not even an option. We can’t have him [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content