Thursday, September 23, 2010

Protecting Ideas For Movies Is Difficult

There was an interesting story in the Hollywood Reporter yesterday about a recent New York District Court decision regarding protection of ideas in the movie industry.  The case involves the movie "Disturbia," which is admittedly very similar to Hitchcock's "Rear Window."  The trust that owns Rear Window sued DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg and others for copyright infringement of Rear Window.  Even though movie critics, the cast of the movie, and legal commentators admitted the similarity was great between the two works, the judge in the case saw it differently - at least as to actionable copying.

New York District Judge Laura Swain concluded that: ""The main plots are similar only at a high, unprotectable level of generality," and "Where 'Disturbia' is rife with sub-plots, the short story has none. The setting and mood of the short story are static and tense, whereas the setting and mood of 'Disturbia' are more dynamic and peppered with humor and teen romance."  Judge Swain finally states: "no reasonable trier of fact could find the works substantially similar within the meaning of copyright law."

Here is a link to the story:  There is a link to the decision at the bottom of the article.

Comments always welcome.  Have a great day!

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