Judge Grants Co-Creator's Heirs Share of Superman Copyright

Ruling could complicate future Man of Steel movies.

by | April 1, 2008 | Comments

Superman’s path back to the big screen — already proving itself to be surprisingly long and winding after 2006’s Superman Returns — may have just gotten even longer and more treacherous.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the heirs of the character’s co-creator, Jerry Siegel, were entitled to a share of the Superman copyright — and have been since 1999. The ruling left unanswered a number of questions, such as monies owed in the last nine years, or whether the Siegels are owed a portion of the profits from Superman Returns.

Though the ruling has far-ranging implications for Time Warner’s ability to exploit Superman, it was actually focused on a very narrow piece of the character’s history — specifically, elements present in his first appearance in Detective Comics’ Action Comics Vol. 1. Though this leaves the vast majority of Superman’s story in the hands of Time Warner, his origin and basic ingredients are now shared with the Siegels. As the New York Times notes, the spillover from the ruling could be significant, threatening to “complicate Warner’s plans to make more films featuring Superman, including another sequel and a planned movie based on DC Comics’ Justice League of America, in which he joins Batman, Wonder Woman and other superheroes to battle evildoers.” And that isn’t all. Per the Times:

If the ruling survives a Time Warner legal challenge, it may also open the door to a similar reversion of rights to the estate of [co-creator Joe] Shuster in 2013. That would give heirs of the two creators control over use of their lucrative character until at least 2033 — and perhaps longer, if Congress once again extends copyright terms — according to Marc Toberoff, a lawyer who represents the Siegels and the Shuster estate.

Siegel and Shuster famously parted with the rights to Superman in 1937, accepting $130 in exchange for DC owning the character “forever” — but a 1976 law, summed up by the Times, “permits heirs, under certain circumstances, to recover rights to creations,” prompting the Siegels to bring suit against Time Warner in 1997.

Source: The New York Times

Tag Cloud

Marathons El Rey Character Guide Calendar LGBTQ GLAAD Adult Swim Holidays justice league Writers Guild of America Marvel Infographic Schedule science fiction Toys Dark Horse Comics dceu Freeform BBC NYCC VICE The CW Trivia GIFs Spring TV Thanksgiving Oscars TCA 2017 Warner Bros. police drama BET Best and Worst NBC Star Trek Valentine's Day RT History Masterpiece Mary Tyler Moore Nat Geo zombie Fantasy dc Esquire travel Pop Box Office Mystery E! thriller Watching Series transformers cops OWN IFC 2016 SDCC politics political drama Rock crime thriller Awards Showtime Interview YA SundanceTV Creative Arts Emmys ESPN MTV Grammys FX sitcom Ellie Kemper CBS PaleyFest American Society of Cinematographers 45 vampires Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cooking VH1 Reality Competition Rocky Opinion boxoffice diversity Western golden globes DC Universe President Universal Photos MSNBC Year in Review TruTV Netflix DC Comics psycho Winners Starz Action Musicals HBO composers Paramount TV Land biography Set visit Christmas cinemax Drama AMC The Arrangement X-Men Cosplay Biopics E3 Tumblr Hulu TV Fall TV docudrama Crackle ABC Family harry potter talk show Rom-Com binge Lionsgate Logo Nominations TCM historical drama based on movie Horror Video Games Disney Channel Sundance Kids & Family TCA Summer 007 Star Wars Music Spike Animation Trailer Reality APB 24 frames supernatural Countdown singing competition discovery CNN TLC ABC 2015 Musical technology Disney TBS adventure 21st Century Fox Country Polls and Games CBS All Access crime drama Amazon Superheroes Red Carpet ITV USA ratings Comedy Central Extras See It Skip It Tomatazos USA Network war crime Emmys First Look A&E sports History Super Bowl Teen BBC America Lifetime Ghostbusters Certified Fresh DirecTV TNT CMT period drama Comedy social media GoT romance Sneak Peek WGN Martial Arts aliens what to watch 2017 dramedy comiccon Premiere Dates TIFF Pirates Sci-Fi Election Cartoon Network Fox News serial killer FOX FXX medical drama Winter TV Mindy Kaling Nickelodeon Food Network Podcast Syfy spy thriller cats PBS Bravo Comic Book