Monday, August 17, 2015
What is the Time Limit for Filing Sampling Infringement Lawsuit?
For copyright infringements, the statute of limitations -- the legal time limit by which you must file a civil lawsuit -- is three years from when you discovered the infringement (or when it reasonably should have been discovered). In 2013, however, the Supreme Court permitted an author/screenwriter's heirs to wait 18 years before filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the owners of the film, Raging Bull. Copyright law provides that when there are ongoing successive infringements—for example, as in this case, where copies of Raging Bull continue to be sold—the copyright owner may bring the lawsuit within three years of any infringement (and can collect damages for only the preceding three years).
Laches. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, lower court decisions had prevented the heir's’ lawsuit under an equitable principle known as laches (it is unfair to proceed with a lawsuit when one party has waited an unreasonable amount of time to bring the claim). In light of the federal statute of limitations, however, the Supreme Court ruled that it was inappropriate to apply laches. Check with your attorney to see if this case may benefit your situation.