'Raging Bull' Screenplay Copyright Lawsuit Given Second Chance In Court

The ongoing lawsuit, filed by Paula Petrella, daughter of deceased screenwriter Frank Petrella, was granted another shot at fighting the film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc over the 1980 Martin Scorsese-directed movie, 'Raging Bull', which she alleges unlawfully infringed upon the copyright of her father's screenplay, written in 1963.

Robert De Niro
De Niro starred as Jake LaMotta in 'Raging Bull'

The decision was made on Monday (May 19th) at the US Supreme Court, after the justices were held to a 6-3 vote to let Paula fight for her father's script, who collaborated with legendary boxer Jake LaMotta on a book and two screenplays that inspired the movie, Reuters reports.

The Academy-Award winning movie was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert De Niro as the boxing champion, LaMotta, who was given the nickname Raging Bull.

MGM's defence is focused on the fact that Petrella, who first sued the studio in 2009, waited too long to file the legal documents as she was knew a claim could be made since 1991.

Petrella, who inherited the rights to the screenplay which she renewed in 1991, declares in the legal papers that MGM owe her damages for the distribution of the movie when it was re-released on DVD and Blue-ray, but only three years prior to filing the suit.

During the hearing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that if Petrella is victorious, it will hardly affect the film studio, as it "will put at risk only a fraction of the income MGM has earned."

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese directed the Academy-Award winning flick

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Other bodies within the film industry, such as The Motion Picture Associated of America, who have backed MGM, fear that if Petrella wins the suit, this will cause publishers to become unwilling to re-release old movies.

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Monday's decision was only considering a preliminary issue, and now a lower court is expected to hear the case.


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