If director Andrew Niccol and New Regency’s Justin Timberlake thriller In Time is based on a pilfered idea, as is claimed in a copyright suit filed yesterday in L.A. federal court, they may have picked on the wrong guy. At the wrong time. The suit was brought by science fiction author Harlan Ellison, who says that the movie is too close to his 1965 short story ”Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman” and wants its scheduled Oct. 28 release blocked. A copyright curmudgeon, Ellison has a track record of filing high-profile copyright cases. He received an acknowledgment credit after he sued over The Terminator, claiming it was based on two Outer Limits episodes her wrote. And according to the suit, after years of waiting, Ellison recently had a third party write an adaptation of the book and was preparing to approach the studios with it. Ellison’s suit alleges plot and character parallels, and he apparently isn’t the only one who sees similarities. The author notes in his suit that critic Richard Roeper in his Fall Movie Preview, says that the film “is based on a short story by the great Harlan Ellison.” In addition to blocking the film’s release, Ellison is seeking compensatory damages.

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