By Jeff Trexler In the book of Genesis, Esau sells his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for some lentil soup. Yesterday, a judge ruled that Joe Shuster’s sister sold the family’s claim on the Superman copyright for a meager pension. Superman may be a modern myth, but that’s not always a good thing.
Ticketfails have become as much a part of fandom as slashfic and cosplay. While PR flubs and angry complaints get a fair bit of attention, the crash of ticket sales for last week’s promotion of a Doctor Who premiere in New York also illustrates the potential for legal problems.
A few thoughts on the legal dimension of online event ticketing — and why it matters — after the jump.
[On Monday, US District judge Otis Wright cancelled a hearing on the case of the Joe Shuster estate's claim for his half of the copyright to Superman. This led many observers to think a decision was near. The Beat's legal expert, Jeff Trexler explains it's just not that simple.]
By Jeff Trexler
Other comic news sites are reporting a bombshell development in DC’s legal fight to hold onto the Superman copyright: on Monday, the company filed a court document asserting that the Shuster estate had actually sold its share of the Superman copyright back to DC in 1992 and affirmed this sale in subsequent correspondence.
DC’s latest filing in the Siegel case made headlines because of the company’s request for a trial. But was that really a surprise? In today’s post, we’ll look at what the filing reveals about DC’s not-so-secret war — and how the final fate of Superman may be determined by Facebook and the Winklevoss twins.
We’ve mentioned a few times here a lawsuit for copyright infringement by DC against an outfit called Gotham Garage, which sells replica Batmobiles—based on the ’60s Batman TV show in particular—as well as other vehicles based on famed fantasy cars, like the Mach Five.
If you were thinking of buying one, better hurry, because a judge has ruled that the Batmobile is subject to copyright.
My last post explored how continuities between the cover image of Action Comics #1 and subsequent material could give DC a substantial part of the copyright in the original Superman. One question left unaddressed, however, was the issue of Clark Kent, not to mention other key elements of Superman’s character and mythos appearing in that historic first issue.
In this post, let’s take a quick look at that question and the role it could play in bringing this case to an end.
A sad day for those who hoped, perhaps against hope, that Jack “The King’ Kirby’s heirs would get some of the money their father’s creations have made over the years. Characters including Captain America (created in the ’40s with Joe Simon), The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor– you know, if they called next year’s potential biggest-movie-of-all-time THE AVENEGRS “JACK KIRBY’S AVENGERS” they would not be far from the mark.
Deadline has analysis, seeing it as a big setback for lawyer Marc Toberoff, who has won many unlikely IP cases against giant studios in the past:
By Jeff Trexler– In March 2008, Grant Morrison’s homage to Siegel and Shuster appeared in comic shops on the very same day that the Siegel heirs recaptured half the original Superman copyright. Now Morrison is set to work his shaman’s magic once again in the September relaunch of Action #1–and this time, the Siegels could lose everything.
Morrison’s upcoming Supergods holds the key to understanding why. For an explanation and a sneak preview of Morrison’s new book, click below. A mysterious appeal, Joe Shuster’s super-swastika and the final crisis of the legal multiverse–this one has it all.
DC has cited its changes and additions to the Super-verse as grounds for reducing the Siegel heirs’s share of Superman material produced since 1999. A recent Variety article takes this even further, reporting thatNeil Gaiman’s success in winning co-ownership of Medieval Spawn provides legal precedent for giving DC complete ownership of the contemporary Superman, limiting the Siegels’ interest to the far less lucrative 1938 version of the character.
Does DC have strong legal grounds for splitting Superman between The Man of Tomorrow and The Man of Yesterday? Click below to see if Gaiman v. McFarlane is legal kryptonite for creators’ rights–or whether that’s just another misconceived retcon.
Judging from the images released so far, it would appear that the relaunched versions of Superman and Superboy will be different from previous versions. Superman will no longer be wearing red shorts over his blue tights, and his belt, boots and S-symbol have also undergone notable alterations. Somewhat more dramatically, Superboy is sporting a black shirt and pants, a black-and-white S-shield mini-cape attached to his back, and a stylized red S-shield tattoo. It also appears that both characters will have significant changes in their continuity, most notably Superman’s age and his relationship with Lois Lane.
This changes in the Superman costume are in themselves not likely to provide a solid foundation for erasing the Siegel heirs’ ownership interest. However, the costume changes and other shifts in continuity are consistent with DC’s arguments for limiting what the Siegels now own.
Perhaps it’s only fitting that double identity has been a central issue in the never-ending battle over the Superman copyright. As longtime readers of my posts may recall, the relation between the original and contemporary versions of Superman has been central to the Siegel lawsuits from the beginning. To set the stage for the posts that follow, let’s take a quick review of how the multiple versions of Superman have played a role in the Siegel lawsuits.