Protecting The Artists? Disney's Marvel Uses Copyright To Crush Already Broke Ghost Rider Creator
from the how-nice dept
Five years ago, we wrote about Gary Friedrich, the creator of the comic book character Ghost Rider, and how he was suing tons of companies, claiming that the copyrights associated with Ghost Rider had reverted back to him in 2001. As we noted at the time, there were some questionable things about his lawsuit — including the fact that he waited years until after a movie and video game had been created and released before suddenly going legal about it. However, apparently Marvel (owned by Disney), in its ultimate vindictiveness, turned around and countersued Friedrich and won, leading to a ridiculous situation: Friedrich, who is broke, is now supposed to pay Marvel $17,000 for Ghost Rider merchandise he had sold in the past. He also isn’t supposed to say that he’s the co-creator of Ghost Rider any more if saying so involves him getting any kind of commercial advantage.
The full ruling in the case makes it clear that Friedrich’s copyright claims were suspect in the first place, as it appears he clearly handed over the copyrights on the character to Marvel. The legal stipulation covers the specific terms, including the $17k payment, and the injunction against using the words “Ghost Rider” in connection with the sale of any goods, merchandise or services (i.e., “pay to get the signature of the creator of Ghost Rider!”).
While Friedrich appears to have clearly overreached in his initial claim, the vindictiveness of Marvel/Disney is pretty ridiculous here. There’s simply no reason for the company to demand $17k from a broke Friedrich, and (on top of that) make it that much harder for him to actually earn the money to pay them. As some are pointing out, you should remember this story the next time big companies claim they want to strengthen copyright law to “protect the content creators.”