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The Washington Post (28/Dec/1988) - Closing the blinds on 'Rear Window'?



Closing the blinds on 'Rear Window'


A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the continued showing of the Alfred Hitchcock classic "Rear Window" by MCA Inc. may violate the copyright for the 1942 story on which the film was based.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the re-release of the 1954 murder thriller starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly to theaters and cable TV and on videotape without the consent of Sheldon Abend, the literary agent who bought the rights to the story in 1972, violates his renewal copyrights.

The decision provides not only for possible damages and percentage of profits to Abend but also a 10 percent share for Columbia University, the beneficiary of a scholarship fund set up by the author, the late Cornell Woolrich.

The appeals court, in a 2-to-l decision, ordered MCA Inc. to return to court to justify its use of "Rear Window" without Abend's consent.

The appeals court refused to consider Abend's request that MCA be enjoined from showing or selling copies of "Rear Window" until the dispute is resolved.