Categorized | Comics

Superhero Copyrights: Jack Kirby Estate Can Go Forward With Legal Battle Against Marvel

Posted on 30 November 2010 by Christian

While DC/Warners attempts to retain the copyright to Superman from the Siegel and Shuster estates, Marvel/Disney, it’s been ruled by a federal judge, will have a similar battle with the estate of Jack Kirby regarding a variety of heroes.

Details The Hollywood Reporter, “A New York federal judge has weighed in on an important case that could be worth billions of dollars and impact the future of Iron Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and other iconic super-hero characters. The case involves the ongoing attempt by the estate of comic book artist Jack Kirby to terminate a copyright grant over his legendary work. After Kirby’s children served 45 notices of copyright termination, Marvel Entertainment sued the estate in New York District Court, seeking a declaration that the creations were ‘works-made-for-hire’ and not eligible for termination. The estate countersued, seeking its own declaration that the termination notices were served properly to Marvel. Last week, New York federal judge Colleen McMahon rejected a bid by Marvel to throw out the Kirby estate’s main counterclaim. The judge decided it wasn’t a ‘redundant’ claim, meaning she will soon have an opportunity to shake up Marvel’s universe, if she so decides, with a potentially devastating future ruling.

“In sum, the judge has narrowed the case to its most crucial issue. Both sides disagree about Kirby’s working environment in the 1950s and 1960s when he, along with Stan Lee, conceived many of Marvel’s most popular characters. The judge will soon be tasked with looking at Kirby’s work history and some of the loose contracts and oral agreements that guided his efforts in those years.”

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