13 August 2020TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Starz hits back at MGM’s “discovery rule” argument in ‘Bill & Ted’s’ suit

Streaming company  Starz has hit back at  MGM’s claim that its infringement suit is unreasonable under US copyright law, at the  US district court for the central district of California.

Last summer, the cable and satellite TV network put MGM on notice for violating the terms of their exclusive library agreements after an employee noticed that  Amazon Prime was streaming “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when it should have been exclusive to Starz, the company claimed.

In May 2020, Starz then sued MGM at a California federal court for copyright infringement and breach of contract, claiming that MGM had infringed 340 titles. In July, MGM did not dispute the infringement suit and instead blamed its breach on“error[s]” made by its human operated rights-tracking database that led to overlapping “collisions” of exclusivity.

According to MGM, it was not aware of the breaches until “the matter first surfaced”. A US copyright law known as the  discovery rule is integral to the dispute. Under it, the statute of limitations starts to run when the rights owner “reasonably should have discovered the infringement”, and not necessarily at the time of the alleged infringement.

MGM claimed that Starz should have noticed the infringement and filed its suit much earlier because the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is three years and the licences for 127 of the 340 titles expired by March 2017.

MGM also cited case law from a 2014 US Supreme Court's decision in a dispute over “Raging Bull” claiming that even if Starz is allowed to proceed with those claims, it can only recover damages for the three-year period before the suit was filed. Starz claims that it “reasonably did not discover MGM’s infringement until August 2019.

It said that “it exclusively licenses thousands of movies and television episodes from various sources”. It stated that to monitor in real time whether its copyrights are being infringed would require checking every distribution platform every day against every exclusivity window for every picture licenced to Starz, constituting “an unreasonably heavy burden”.

A further hearing is set for September 11.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

14 March 2017   MGM Resorts, the owner of a Las Vegas hotel casino, has taken on an alleged cybersquatter who is using to operate an online casino.
17 March 2022   US cable TV network Starz claims that it did not copy a cabaret stage play in the creation of its strip-club drama “P-Valley”.
15 July 2022   The streaming company can bring a suit that alleges infringement and breach of contract | Dispute centres on $70m exclusivity licence | Movies include “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.