Sentient spleen Harlan Ellison has fired up his lawsuit death-ray again, this time training it squarely on New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over the latter’s forthcoming, Justin Timberlake-starring film In Time, which Ellison argues has been ripped off from his own 1965 story “Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman.” Ellison’s claim cites numerous similarities between the two works—the notion of a “dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live,” the “Timekeeper” authorities who keep track of that time, the rebellion against those authorities, etc.—and even brings in quotes from critics who have noted those similarities in their early reviews.

However, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, copyright law protects expression, not ideas, and without more specific parallels in dialogue or relationships, it could be difficult for Ellison to get what he’s seeking—which, in typically reasonable Harlan Ellison fashion, is not only an injunction against the film’s distribution, but the total destruction of all copies in existence. Still, given the way Ellison’s similar lawsuits against James Cameron and The Terminator, Paramount and Star Trek, and the trees for whispering at him have all played out, more than likely he’ll simply get yet another out-of-court settlement, rather than force Niccol to point how Ellison’s story failed to include Olivia Wilde as Justin Timberlake’s hot mom, thereby prompting any reasonable judge to exclaim, “Case dismissed!” and jovially ask the jury if they’d like to attend a screening with him, because he’s buying the popcorn.

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