The Copyright Act expressly prescribes a three--year statute of limitations for civil copyright claims. 17 U.S.C. § 507(b). The three-year period accrues separately for each act of infringement, even if it is one of a continuing series of acts of infringement.
The federal courts of appeals have divided 3-2-1 over whether the nonstatutory defense of laches can bar a civil copyright suit brought within the express three-year statute of limitations. Three circuits forbid any application of laches or restrict the remedies to which it can apply. Two other circuits strongly disfavor laches and restrict it to exceptional circumstances. The Ninth Circuit not only does not restrict laches or the remedies to which it can apply, but has also adopted a presumption in favor of applying laches to continuing copyright infringements.
The question presented is:
Whether the nonstatutory defense of laches is available without restriction to bar all remedies for civil copyright claims filed within the three-year statute of limitations prescribed by Congress, 17 U.S.C. § 507(b).