Led Zeppelin, man.
A recent Supreme Court decision reinstating a copyright lawsuit over the movie Raging Bull now has another side effect: it opened the door to IP challenges involving the comic book character Spider-Man and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
In the Raging Bull case, the justices ruled on May 19 that a nuanced concept called “laches” does not automatically apply to copyright litigation. (“Laches” means an unusual delay that prejudices the opposing side. Or, you “slept on your rights.”) A federal appeals court previously ruled that Paula Petrella waited too long, nearly two decades, before suing over the movie rights to her deceased father’s boxing screenplay. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals initially dismissed the suit as untimely.
But in reinstating the case against MGM Holdings, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg ruled that laches does not preclude a lawsuit. Rights owners, Ginsberg wrote for the 6-3 majority, “can defer suit” (PDF) until they can “estimate whether litigation is worth the candle.” Petrella sued in 2009, and the high court’s ruling allows damages claims, if proven, dating to 2006 under a three-year statute of limitations.
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