Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 09:39 UK

Spielberg 'stole Hitchcock plot'

Shia LeBeouf in Disturbia
Disturbia, starring Shia LeBeouf, topped the box office in North America

Steven Spielberg and his Dreamworks company stole the plot of Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window, a US legal case claims.

2007's Disturbia, starring Shia LaBeouf, is a murder mystery about a boy who spies on suspicious neighbours.

Legal papers filed in Manhattan federal court say the story of 1954 film Rear Window is "essentially the same".

The estate of late film producer Sheldon Abend, who owned the Rear Window rights, is seeking damages.

The legal documents claim that Disturbia copies both Rear Window and short story Murder from a Fixed Viewpoint - written by author Cornell Woolrich in 1942 - which Mr Hitchcock's film was based on.

The rights to both Rear Window and the short story were owned by Mr Woolrich, who died in 1968.

They were subsequently sold to Mr Abend, who died in 2003.

His estate claims that the main character in all three works behaves in the same way and interacts with similar characters.

"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 legal papers add.

Representatives for Mr Spielberg and DreamWorks said they would not comment on pending cases.

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