Dreamworks Asked To Explore the 'Rear Window' of Inspiration

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Dreamworks Asked To Explore the 'Rear Window' of Inspiration

Wed Sep 10, 2008 @ 03:34PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Sia_2Sure, it was obvious to anybody who saw "Disturbia" that it was an homage to the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic "Rear Window." The film's high-concept twist is that the troubled teenager played by Shia LaBeouf is sentenced by a judge to spend 30 days of purgatory in his suburban house, with nothing left to do but spy on his neighbors, including one with a possible murderous streak. Sound familiar?

But do filmmakers commit copyright infringement when taking one movie's loose concept and updating it for the digital age?

That's the question that's about to be explored in a new lawsuit in New York federal court filed by the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, which holds the copyright on "Rear Window."

"What the defendants have been unwilling to do openly, legitimately and legally, (they) have done surreptitiously, by their back-door use of the 'Rear Window' story without paying compensation," the lawsuit says.

Since filmmakers borrow concepts and inspiration from older films all the time, a victory for the plaintiff would surely open up an interesting slippery slope to explore. We're very interested to see what a court has to say on this case.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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