In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court gave screenwriter Frank Petrella's daughter Paula the right to sue MGM over copyright infringement pertaining to the film Raging Bull. In letting the case go forward, the Supreme Court had to consider whether a copyright infringement suit is valid such a long time after the copyrighted work was issued, as long as the claim only pertains to continued earnings from that work.
Petrella's 2009 lawsuit limited her claim to damages three years before and after the date of her suit, i.e. only any earnings after 2006 and until 2012. Both the federal District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the studio against Petrella's claim: essentially, that the studio could invoke the doctrine of laches in arguing that the daughter had waited too long to file suit — laches refers to an unreasonable delay that are unfair to the defendant. But Petrella's suit only asked for damages within the statute of limitations of three years under law, for what she argued was a continued infringement on the copyright. Acknowledging that she couldn't ask for anything outside of the limitations, Petrella sued for a couple slices of the entire pie of MGM's use of Raging Bull.