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Supreme Court rules in favor of plaintiff in copyright infringement case

On May 19, the US Supreme Court decided in favor of Paula Petrella in the copyright infringement case Petrella v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., stating that laches “cannot be invoked as a bar to Petrella’s pursuit of a claim for damages brought within…the three-year window.”

(Laches means that a legal right or claim will not be enforced if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has hurt the opposing party as a sort of “legal ambush.”)

“This Supreme Court decision resolves an issue that had been the subject of debate for decades and removes once and for all one of the defenses that had historically been raised to defeat copyright infringement claims,” said Stephen Gillen, an attorney with Wood Herron & Evans LLP. “Authors are now in a slightly better position when it comes to policing the unauthorized use of their copyrighted works.”

Read the court’s full opinion.