Harlan Ellison has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the upcoming Justin Timberlake-starring science-fiction thriller In Time, claiming copyright infringement.
The science-fiction writer alleges that t he film’s concept has been liberally cribbed from his short story “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said The Tick Tock Man.” Ellison’s story tells of a dystopian future where time is strictly regulated and merely the act of being late for something is a criminal offense. In Time tells of a near-future world where time has become a currency which leads to people selling years off of their lives to the upper class.
According to Deadline, who broke the story, Ellison is seeking to have the have the film’s October 28th release blocked.
While I’ll admit that it has been years since I last read “Repent,” I’m not so sure that there are enough similarities between the two stories to constitute infringement. But then again, Ellison not only has a history of filing such lawsuits, he has a history of winning such legal actions. You need look no further than the suit he filed against James Cameron and the producers of the first Terminator movie claiming that the film “borrowed” heavily from two stories he had originally written for the Outer Limits television anthology series.
Recently, Ellison optioned the film rights to the short story to J. Michael Straczynski, who is spearheading an attempt to get it on the big screen.
Ellison famously wrote the short story in 1965 in a single six-hour session as a submission to a Milford Writer’s Workshop.