'Disturbia' mirrors 'Window,' suit claims

Hitchcock's 1953 film was based on Woolrich's short story

DreamWorks' "Disturbia" is a rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window," according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan federal court.

According to the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, which owns the rights to Cornell Woolrich's short story "Murder From a Fixed Viewpoint," Hitchcock legally obtained the rights to turn the short story into a big-screen thriller in 1953. However, the trust claims DreamWorks did not do the same.

The lawsuit contends that "Disturbia" and "Rear Window" are "essentially the same" stories. Both are murder mysteries solved by a man peering from his window and witnessing strange behavior by a neighbor.

The characters in the films -- as well as the short story -- are similar, and the plots unfold basically the same way, the lawsuit states.

"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 states.

Also named as defendants are Steven Spielberg, who declined comment through a spokesman. Reps for DreamWorks parent company Viacom did not immediately comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.