Copyright Insanity: Courts Continue To Try To Slice And Dice The Superman Copyright

from the who-gets-what-now? dept

For years, I've been watching the rather insane battle between the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and Warner Bros., over who owns what copyrights concerning Superman. The overall details of the case are honestly too bizarre and convoluted to get into all of the details as to how we got here, but suffice it to say, it's yet another example of how twisted copyright has become, in this specific instance, focused on "termination" rights when it comes to copyright. If you want a good detailed explanation of the history here, this is a pretty good summary. As it stands now, both parties own some of the rights to Superman, which makes for some awkward problems. BobinBaltimore alerts us to a short writeup concerning the latest ruling in the ongoing series of court cases, and just a quick summary should detail the insanity that we're dealing with:
The court ruled, for the most part, that the Siegels successfully recaptured most of the works at issue, including those first two weeks of daily Superman strips, as well as key sections of early Action Comics and Superman comics.This means the Siegels, repped by Warners' nemesis Marc Toberoff, now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as an infant, the launching of the baby Superman into space and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

But Warners/DC still owns other elements, including Superman's ability to fly, the term "kryptonite," the villain Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, and some of Superman's powers.
It's like a Solomon-like "splitting of the baby" to figure out who can actually do what. In the meantime... the idea that Superman can fly is covered by copyright? Yikes.


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    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    Can someone explain how this legal quagmire helps to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"?! I won't hold my breath.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      It makes perfect sense. On Bizarro Earth!!! Who owns the copyright on Bizarro Superman's inability to fly? That's what I want to know.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      It makes perfect sense. On Bizarro Earth!!! Who owns the copyright on Bizarro Superman's inability to fly? That's what I want to know.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Pay yer royalties!

    Shouldn't be surprised. I mean, Warner also owns the rights to Happy Birthday.

    It costs $5,000 to sing the song legally. (Page 4,68)

    And they called ME insane!

     

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    Fushta, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Superman via Seinfeld

    Betcha Seinfeld producers had to pay royalties to use his likeness and even mention him on the show.


    Also, if you're going to use a biblical reference, get it right. It's Solomon, not Samson.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Superman via Seinfeld

      Beat me to it. Samson was a warrior who defeated and army with the jawbone of an ass. Solomon was a King who came WAY after.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re: Superman via Seinfeld

        "Beat me to it. Samson was a warrior who defeated and army with the jawbone of an ass"

        That's a mistranslation. It's actually the assbone of a jawa.

        Common mistake...

         

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Y'know... Frak 'em.

    Seriously, if they think they get to delve this far into anything, frak 'em.

    Creatives, carry on as you have been.

     

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    Steve, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Samson?

    Actually, that would be Solomon who ruled that the baby be split. I should know. I own the copyright to the story. My lawyers - Sueman and Shyster - will be in contact.

     

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    Chris Dean, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Solomon

    You mean Solomon, not Samson.

    Samson was the guy who got his hair cut off.

     

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    diabolic (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    I think superman peeing is covered by copyright too...
    http://occasionalplanet.com/id3.html

     

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    Alfredo Octavio, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Superman can fly?

    In the beginning, at least in the first comic, Superman couldn't fly, only use his super strength to leap tall buildings. So someone had to come up with the idea that what Superman was doing was flying... right? right? What's the difference between that and, say, inventing the light bulb!

    I hate that Superman can fly, is affected by kriptonite, and has heat vision... Only his super strength is explained in the comic: Kripton was a larger planet and the people there where super athletes. So, of course the baby is a super athlete in a smaller planet...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 8:50am

      Re: Superman can fly?

      Except you're not copyrighting the "light bulb". You're copyrighting the fact that a light bulb creates light, and saying any reference to a light bulb illuminating anything is a violation of those rights.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Yah!

    So slicing up Superman is fine, but the sequel to Catcher in the Rye gets banned?

    I LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND ITS BOUGHT JUDGES AND POLITICIANS!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Yah!

      So slicing up Superman is fine, but the sequel to Catcher in the Rye gets banned?

      I LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND ITS BOUGHT JUDGES AND POLITICIANS!

      The author of the sequel should have given the main character to ability to fly.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

        Re: Re: Yah!

        "The author of the sequel should have given the main character to ability to fly."

        And the created a Holden version of Dawson's Creek on the WB, in which Holden is a complete and total vagina.

        Just keeping the analogy going...

         

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    Dennis Yang (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    changed Samson to Solomon..

    Thanks to all who pointed out that Samson should be, indeed, Solomon... I've changed it now..

     

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    Lucretious, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    this is.....retarded. WTF good is Superman if he can't fly or use only a portion of his powers?

    Also, how greedy do you have to be where neither side can come to terms on a complete buyout of the others holdings?

     

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    FilmLab, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Superman's entourage

    Who does Superman have to pay royalties to if he gets out of bed in the morning? I hope he has a good accountant and psychiatrist.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

      Re: Superman's entourage

      I'd say he needs a good proctologist more than anything else, given how many people have their hands up his ass...

       

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 17th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Now, I am wondering what would happen if superman suddenly gained the ability to teleport very short distances in any direction, therebye giving the appearance of flight, but actually teleporting... Or perhaps more amusingly, what if he went back in time and killed his baby self by flying. (off camera of course) Who would own the rights to the paradoxe that would ensue?

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 7:04am

    Meanwhile on the other side of town...

    So it turns out that the only things that can remove Supermans powers, thereby exposing metropolis and the world to to yet another crime wave/global disaster are

    1) Kryptonite
    2) Copyright Lawyers

    Why am I not surprised?

    I can actually see the day when the earth's Meteorite defense shield fails as copyright lawyers have tied up the activation code...

     

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    Vextor.TV, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

    How online TV and Movie copyright infringment could be made a thing of the past...

     

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    Tibz Superman, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 2:32am

    Re: Can Superman Fly?

    Haha, that is right, copyright is just getting completely ridiculous, even with something that has so deeply embedded itself in human culture - Superman. Well, I wish we had one - to come and remedy this absurdity. superman action figures

     

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    Hans Christian Vang, May 22nd, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    Copyright

    Siegels Superman could jump a building, not fly. He never participated in any of the revamps of the character that created the Superman we all know today.

    So, the Siegels can do whatever they want with the Super Man the Siegels originally created, who is an alien from Krypton who is strong and can jump around town, beating criminals to a pulp.

    Anything DC and Warner spent the billions they've spent on the branding of the character, nope. That includes all logos, insignias, etc, cause they sure don't own the Superman shield either - he only had a goofy S in a triangle on his chest in the first place.

    But good for them - i'd love to see a comic based on this early edition of super man, though I doubt it would be accepted by superman fans as canon.

     

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    Trojan, Jul 27th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

    Using Grey and Brown Superman

    The Grey and brown Superman from Superman (1948) is a 15-part black-and-white Columbia film serial based on the comic book character Superman can replace the blue and red Superman.

    After reading the internet address listed below what do you think of the grew and brown superman?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman_(serial)

    I think it looks cool and could serve good for 20 years under current copyright law in the United States anyways.

     

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