Warner Brothers defeats Jerry Siegel family in court
Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created Superman. In 1939, the pair sold Superman to Detective Comics for a sum of $130. Detective Comics went on to become DC Comics and was eventually purchased by Warner Brothers. Superman has made the company billions of dollars in profits over the years. Siegel and Schuster, believing their original deal was massively unfair in hindsight, waged legal battles for years trying to win back the Superman rights. Yesterday, that battle may have finally ended, with DC Comics coming out on top.
To quote from an article appearing over on The Hollywood Reporter…
On Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a lower court was wrong to deny Warner Bros. subsidiary DC Comics’ contention that it had a deal in 2001 with the estate of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel. As a result, a federal judge’s 2008 ruling to allow the Siegel estate to recapture Superman rights is about to be wiped out.
The decision follows a ruling by a federal judge in October to deny the estate of Superman’s other co-creator Joseph Shuster the ability to recapture its own portion of the Superman copyright. That was another win for Warner Bros.
Together, the decisions mean that Warners can exploit the Superman franchise without fear of substantial legal hassles from the estates of Shuster and Siegel. That’s significant because Warner Bros. is preparing to release this summer’s big-budget Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan.
Because of how long this legal battle has been raging, it would take quite a while to explain the whole back story and how we got to where things are now. However, the important thing to know is that at this point, Warner Brothers/DC Comics has won full legal control of Superman. Both Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel and their families had filed separate legal challenges attempting to win back control of Superman. In the end, both lost. Superman is 100% the property of Warner Brothers.
This legal decision is just one more victory for the major comic book companies over the creators of comic book characters. The Jack Kirby estate was recently dealt a loss as that family tried to win the rights to the bulk of the Marvel Comics Universe. Gary Friedrich also took Marvel to court, trying to win the rights to Ghost Rider. He lost, too. And as I’ve said before, I think the courts made the right call in all of these decisions. Because if a creator wants to keep control of their characters, they shouldn’t sell them to comic book companies and then hope they can just have the courts award them full ownership and massive fortunes later on down the road. It doesn’t – and shouldn’t – work like this in the real world, people.
At this point, I really hope all of these Shuster and Siegel lawsuits are over and done with. They aren’t going to win and will just continue to rack up bigger and bigger legal bills. It’s over. DC Comics won. Time to move on.
Filed Under: News