'Rear Window' Copyright Holder Sues Spielberg & Viacom
Areas of Focus | 2008/09/09 15:42
Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks and Viacom stole the copyrighted story on which the Hitchcock film "Rear Window" was based and used it as the basis for their movie, "Disturbia," the copyright holder claims in Federal Court. Hitchcock based his movie on the Cornell Woolrich story, under a license, but the defendants in this case just swiped it, the plaintiff says.

The Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust sued Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, NBC Universal, Universal Pictures, and United International Pictures in this 60-page federal lawsuit, with 120 pages of attachments.

The plaintiff says this is just "the latest in an ongoing pattern of behavior by the Universal Defendants ... and their predecessors, who on numerous occasions in the past utilized the Rear Window Story without securing rights and paying compensation. In multiple rounds of litigation during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s extending all the way to the United States Supreme Court (See Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 110 S. Ct. 1750 (1990)), the predecessors of Universal Defendants have been required to acknowledge Plaintiff's rights in and to the Rear Window Story and the Rear Window Film resulting in, inter alia, the payment of compensation in order to obtain grants of rights in and to the Rear Window Story".

The lawsuit cites numerous newspaper reviews of "Disturbia" that criticize "Disturbia" as being "ripped off" from the Rear Window story and movie. One reviewer wrote that Spielberg and his associates merely changed the protagonists from old people to teen-agers.

Plaintiff demands restitution, disgorgement, damages and costs. Its lead counsel is Clay Townsend with Morgan & Morgan of Orlando, Fla.


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