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

Ruling could complicate future Man of Steel movies.

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

Comments

Gimy

Gimy Moo

yep...more of a reason the sequels will probably not get made. took em how long to get that last flick(that was average) out?? just have an actual villian this time and people might actually give a crap. and no, other than comic nerds...most people won't believe Luthor can take down a superhuman guy. its just not believeable...sorry. especially since he can hear everybody in the world(but can't hear luthor's plans??).

Apr 1 - 06:03 AM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Gimy;

Apparently Supes can only hear you if you're 'crying out for a savior.'

I dunno how to feel about this, actually. On the one hand I think it's a no-brainer that Siegel and Schuster should get something for their creation, despite having signed away their rights--they got righteously dicked. On the other hand, Jesus F#cking CHRIST, can't anyone take a dump without someone else suing to get a piece of it?!

Apr 1 - 06:34 AM

dedalus7

A B

I just sued my cat for pooping on the carpet. But he counter sued and now he owns everything! And now he poops on the carpet at will! (will's not happy either)

Apr 1 - 07:46 AM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Dude, that was pretty funny!

Apr 1 - 10:12 AM

LordVapor

Justin Quarterman

Just when you think the Supes' news can't get any more depressing...


Love how on I am Legend, in the first scene at Times Square, there is an ad for the "Batman and Superman" movie.

Apr 1 - 09:23 AM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Dude, that was pretty funny!

Apr 1 - 10:12 AM

NatureBoy4

Richard Tomasello

Sure, Siegel and Shuster only created the first iconic superhero ever, which all other superheroes are based on, their families don't deserve a dime for that. Of course a Hollywood studio does, they do all the hard work, like trying to re-invent something beloved by comic book fans eveywhere.

Apr 1 - 10:17 AM

High School With Money

LEEEROOOOOAAAAHHHH MMMYYAAAANKEEEUUUNNNNSSSS

Finally, whiners are legally bound to stop complaining that Superman only has one weakness. Apparently he has two more, and getting them to agree to anything new in a timely manner would be harder than saying Mix-Yes-Spit-Lick's name backwards.

Apr 1 - 10:58 AM

renodc

Ryan Meals

This is the cancer of liberalism, which has already permeated our judicial system and turned it into an absolute joke. It's all about entitlement and what I should get even though I didn't earn it. Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to DC, and therefore their heirs should have absolutely no ground to stand on. It's not Warner or DC's fault that Siegel and Shuster were dumb enough to sell the rights for $130.

Apr 1 - 11:41 AM

IMAmoose24

Eric Schulze

At least Justice League wont happen yet.

Apr 1 - 03:07 PM

davenav

David Thomas

I'm a bit surprised to see so many taking the corporate position. Oh wait, this is Rotten Tomatoes...owned by FOX. Maybe I'm not so surprised.

Let me be a happy minority that is glad that the actual creators of a character might get a small piece of the profit created by their creation.

Apr 1 - 08:31 PM

Siler_117

Justin Siler

back off guys...superman needs to finally fight Doomsday and die...then be revived and then let the series end...that would be best for such a great series...excluding 3 and 4 of course

Apr 1 - 08:33 PM

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