4.11.2007

S.D. Fla Notes Split Re Whether Laches May Be a Viable Defense in Copyright Suits When Copyright Holder Files Within Three-Year Statute of Limitations

Per Oravec v. Sunny Isles Luxury Ventures L.C., 469 F.Supp.2d 1148 (S.D. Fla. Jul. 24, 2006):

The statute of limitations on a copyright claim is three years. 17 U.S.C. § 407(b). Oravec filed his lawsuit within two years. There is a split among the circuits about whether laches is a viable defense where the copyright holder files his case within the statutory period. Compare Danjaq LLC v. Sony Corporation, 263 F.3d 942, 954 (9th Cir.2001) (“If a defendant can show harm from the delay, the court may, in extraordinary circumstances, defeat the claim based on laches, though the claim is within the analogous limitations period”) (citation omitted) with Lyons Partnership v. Morris Costumes, Inc., 243 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir.2001) (“in connection with copyright claims, separation of powers principles dictate that an equitable timeliness rule adopted by courts cannot bar claims that are brought within the legislatively prescribed statute of limitations”). The Eleventh Circuit has yet to address the subject. That question need not be answered here, however, because Defendants have not shown inexcusable delay nor undue prejudice.

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