The ruling in the Petella case on the writ is very interesting. The case, Petella vs MGM Studios is not as interesting to me as the writ itself. The Copyright Law has time limits for filing but the courts have different variations on what that means. Another reason to choose wisely about the courts you file cases. The information here is that the copyright issue goes back almost 18 years. The lower court and the appeals court both ruled it cannot be pursued because of the time restriction. The Supreme Court has a different view. The Writ of Certioari was a written motion to fore go the time restriction and allow the case. The Supreme Court agreed and the case now has a venue to be heard. The 9th Circuit and the 9th Court of Appeals ruled against the case and the Supreme Court ruled to allow the case without considering the time limitations. Please note that the case link above has not been updated with the ruling on October 1, 2013 by the Supreme Court. The case will be heard without regard for the lache on the time for filing.
Does this mean the time restraints are off, no, it means that the absolute power of the summary judgment use by the lower courts has its limitations when applied to areas that should be left to a jury. The whole idea of summary judgments was that it was to be used in cases with no dispute on the facts. This case is full of disputes of the facts and the summary judgment should never have been allowed. While the courts have a wide range of options and latitude they do have their limits as this and other rulings from the highest court have shown recently.
Lawyer fees are the largest obstacle to people filing copyright cases and they are in many cases the largest expense to the infringer if found guilty. The Cabella case shows a court approved attorney fee for one side of the case for over $ 500,000.00. That does not include the fees for the court or their own attorney fees. The case is typical as the attorney fees are out of line in my opinion. I do realize the filing of motions and writs are part of the landscape in these cases but realistically things need to change. The Copyright Office report to Congress states that over 80% of the cost of the case is attorney fees and done prior to any trial. Yes the over $ 500,000.00 attorney fee was for fees prior to trial. The case never went to trial.
As you can see there are times cases can go for years and if someone thinks they can hide for a certain amount of time and get away with the infringing this clearly shows that is not the case. It also shows the cost of starting a case even if it never goes to trial. Again for the infringer who reads this, you may never go to trial but what is the cost to you in the long run? This case was only about one item. Think how it can grow with multiple items and has nothing to do with damages or the cost of the items infringed.
The things that are currently going on in the copyright infringement battle clearly shows the highest court, the US Congress and the United States Copyright Office are taking infringing very seriously. They are in the process of increasing the options to enforce the punishment of infringers. They are putting out signals to all that you need to stop infringing and if you have, try to make amends before you get handed a half million dollar attorney fee plus all the others fees, costs and damages.
I am not an attorney. These are my personal opinions and general knowledge only. These are not legal advice and should not be used as such.