CBS Slings Massive Copyright Accusations at ABC

CBS (NYSE:CBS) says ABC’s Life in a Glass House is a “carbon copy” of its hit reality show Big Brother and is taking the Disney (NYSE:DIS) unit to court. The lawsuit comes after a cease-and-desist order CBS had already filed last week, asking its rival channel to cancel the show. Both series are based on the concept of showing 14 strangers living together, with one participant being declared the winner.

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CBS says Life in a Glass House, which premieres June 18, “replicates every key aspect of Big Brother, including, among other things, its plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events.”

The suit, filed Thursday with the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, has asked for a declaratory judgment from the court that would keep the show from going forward, as well as $500,000 in damages for each instance of infringement, saying there had been a theft of “copyrightable expression, trade secrets, and other confidential and proprietary information.”

Last year, NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) had successfully defended itself against a lawsuit that alleged its weight-loss contest show The Biggest Loser violated copyright law.

“Any time a new show comes out that’s basically the same idea, there are always these kinds of charges,” Lance Lieberman, an intellectual-property attorney, told Wall Street Journal. Lieberman said the burden of proof will lie with CBS.

In a statement, ABC said the lawsuit had no merit. “The differences between Glass House and Big Brother are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from Glass House’s interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting-edge technologies,” the statement read.

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