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The Glass House


A federal judge has said that he is "not likely" to grant a motion filed by CBS attempting to block the premiere of ABC's newest reality program, The Glass House—which is set to debut Monday night—but is currently giving it a second look.

The Tiffany Network claims the show is a carbon copy of its hit program Big Brother, stating the show violates copyright and trade secrets.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess heard arguments from both sides attorneys this morning, and said he will issue a written ruling soon, but was "not likely" to issue a preliminary ruling siding with ABC.

"I don't think the copyright argument is very strong," Judge Feess said. "CBS has not persuaded me with either claim."

Judge Feess later added in his decision, "I'm not persuaded that the broadcast will dull the appetite for viewers of Big Brother." Later he said, "The proliferation of reality shows and audiences' fascination with these shows is well understood, even for those of us who don't understand it."

Scott Edelman, lead attorney for CBS, argued that The Glass House features audience participation that is similar to Big Brother and also features 12-15 contestants living in a studio "cut off from the world."

"This is the first time in any court where a reality show has been copied, lock, stock and barrel, with small changes around the fringes," Edelman argued. "What they have done has taken CBS' number one show in the summer and tweaked it to make it different."

Edelman argued the show could have been called "Bigger Brother" and, "This sort of duplication should not be allowed."

"When I first heard of Big Brother, I thought it was Survivor in a house," replied Judge Feess.

ABC attorney Glenn Pomerantz stated that it is "very difficult" to have a copyright case for reality shows.

"The plots are not the same," Pomerantz said. "Because the audience is so involved in so many things, it changes the way the contestants react. Contestants are looking through the glass to the viewers" to support them, instead of forming alliances within the other contestants.  

CBS said in a statement, "We appreciate the Court's continuing consideration of this case and our request for an injunction. Win, lose or draw on the TRO [temporary restraining order], we fully intend to proceed with our claims against Disney/ABC for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets over The Glass House, which may still warrant more injunction proceedings depending on the content of each episode.  At the same time, we will move forward with our individual claims for liability and liquidated damages against any current The Glass House producer who violated their Big Brother confidentiality agreement."

ABC says they have spent nearly $16 million promoting Glass House.