17
Sep/08

Innocent Drawn Into Web of Intrigue: That Old Chestnut


I’ve seen Read Window about a million times. It’s my second favorite Hitchcock after ‘North By Northwest.” When I saw the trailer for Disturbia, I thought “oh, updated Rear Window.’ But that’s not the test for copyright infringement.
In Rear WIndow, photographer Jimmy Stewart is housebound due to a broken leg. He’s bored so he looks out his rear window at the windows of the apartment house across the yard. He witnesses a murder in one apartment, and, with the help of his girlfriend and (female) physical therapist, he attempts to ‘solve’ the case. In Disturbia, a teenager livng in suburbia, is housebound because he’s under house arrest (wearing a leg bracelet). The first twenty minutes seem to have been written and directed by a copyright lawyer, setting up why the kid is under house arrest. He sees what may be a murder across the street, and attempts to ‘solve’ the case with the help of his mother, his female next door neighbor (who is not his girlfriend) and male best friend.
There’s no question in my mind that the screenwriter of Disturbia saw Rear Window, and there’s no question in my mind that copyright lawyers reviewed the script.
The copyright owner of Rear Window has now sued the producers of Disturbia. The complaint does not seem to be on Justia at this time.

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