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Rage on: Heir takes legal challenge to U.S. Supreme Court

Not far south of Jupiter, a man who once famously raged in the boxing ring made a living telling jokes and selling drinks.

The subject of Martin Scorcese's "Raging Bull" was boxer Jake LaMotta, who moved to Miami after retiring from the ring to open a club where he performed stand-up comedy. Now LaMotta is indirectly part of a battle between the heir to LaMotta's biographer and the movie companies that profited from "Raging Bull."

That legal battle over ownership of "Raging Bull" will be reviewed soon by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court announced recently.

The challenge is being brought by a woman whose father penned the LaMotta autobiography that became the basis for the famous movie.

The woman's father also wrote an early screenplay back in the 1960s, she says.

She claims that because her father died before the copyright grant on his book expired, the rights to "Raging Bull" were passed on to his heirs.

She says in her lawsuit that MGM and 20th Century Fox infringed on that copyright.

Last year, a federal Court of Appeals said her 2009 lawsuit was filed too late.

Now the high court will review that decision, in a case that will have movie and publishing industry eyes all over it.

The woman's father died in 1981; too early for him to be able to understand how long his work would be appreciated, she argues.

One of the questions to be answered in her case: how soon did she need to file her suit to protect the inherited copyright?

There's little doubt that few parents would want to see their children embroiled in legal disputes decades after the parents are gone. That's why careful estate planning is so crucial to carry out today, while the details can be discussed with an attorney experienced in protecting heirs and beneficiaries.

Source: hollywoodreporter.com, "Supreme Court Will Hear 'Raging Bull' Dispute," Oct. 1, 2013

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