Future Cop: the lawsuit

Future CopWriters Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova win a copyright infringement/breach of contract lawsuit against Paramount Television, ex-Paramount exec Terry Keegan, and ABC-TV over the short-lived 1976/77 TV series Future Cop, which they contend that the studio and network launched within months of an option lapsing on Brillo, an Ellison/Bova “robot cop” pilot script submitted in 1973. After a four-year wait to get the case into court, a jury takes only four weeks to find that the similarities between Brillo and Future Cop outweigh the differences, and award the writers $182,500 in compensatory damages and $154,500 in punitive damages, falling a bit short of the $3,000,000 sought. Ellison spends part of his proceeds from the suit to buy a billboard across from Paramount Pictures bearing the warning, “Writers, don’t let them steal from you!”

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