Robert De Niro played Jake LaMotta in 1980’s “Raging Bull.” The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a copyright dispute related to the film.
United Artists via Associated Press,
Supreme Court to hear Ill. case key to Minnesota child-care union fight
- Article by: ADAM LIPTAK
- New York Times
- October 1, 2013 - 7:55 PM
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal in a copyright dispute arising from the movie “Raging Bull,” and it added seven other cases to its docket.
The justices took no action on closely watched cases on the regulation of greenhouse gases and whether Argentina must repay bondholders.
The copyright case concerns collaborations between boxer Jake LaMotta and a friend, Frank P. Petrella, including a book and two screenplays, one of which was called “The Raging Bull.” Paula Petrella, Petrella’s daughter, contends that these works formed the basis for “Raging Bull,” the 1980 movie starring Robert DeNiro.
She did not sue the movie’s owners until 2009, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco, said that was too late. The copyright law itself would have allowed the suit, as its three-year statute of limitation starts to run anew every time there is a fresh infringement.
The question for the justices, one that has divided the lower courts, is whether the suit should nonetheless have been dismissed based on a doctrine known as laches, which bars suits brought after unreasonable delays.
In asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, Petrella vs. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, No. 12-1315, Petrella’s lawyers said the 9th Circuit’s approach was at odds with the separations of powers. “Congress, not the courts, is responsible for weighing competing interests,” Petrella’s lawyers wrote. The studio responded that Petrella’s “18-year delay in bringing this action was egregious and entirely unjustified.”
The other seven cases the court agreed to hear mostly involved technical questions over issues like legal fees, taxes and railroads. The justices return to the bench Monday.
Among them is one arising from a federal law that prohibits people from possessing guns if they have been convicted on domestic violence charges involving physical force.
The court also agreed to decide whether Illinois may require health care workers who provide home care to Medicaid recipients to pay union dues. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the requirement, saying the workers were jointly employed by the Medicaid recipients who hired them and the state, which paid for their work and decided what services would be reimbursed.
The decision further complicated Minnesota’s attempts to unionize child care workers. A federal court granted an injunction to the union drive until the court decided on hearing the case. But it’s not known yet whether the Minnesota injunction will be lengthened.
Staff writer Jim Ragsdale contributed to this report.
© 2013 Star Tribune