Lawsuit Targets Disturbia

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Too close to Rear Window?

The highly profitable Disturbia, starring Shia LaBeouf, is too damn close to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window? No way.

The writing was on the wall when the film hit theaters early last year, yet here we are edging into late-’08 with news of a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court directed to Dreamworks for Disturbia‘s similarities.

According to Reuters, Dreamworks, its parent company Viacom Inc, and Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co’s NBC Universal, are accused of copyright infringement and breach of contract for making Disturbia without first obtaining permission from the copyright holders, the suit said.

Spielberg, a Dreamworks founder, is named as a defendant.

According to the lawsuit, filed by the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, the basis for Hitchcock’s 1954 film was “It Had to Be Murder,” a short story by Cornell Woolrich.

Hitchcock and actor James Stewart obtained the motion picture rights to the story in 1953. The lawsuit argues that Dreamworks should have done the same.

A spokesman for Spielberg declined to comment. Representatives of Viacom and NBC Universal were not immediately available for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Disturbia and the Rear Window story are “essentially the same.” Both are murder mysteries beginning with a man who, while peering from his window, witnesses strange behavior in the home of his neighbor.

Source: Reuters