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.

Filed Under: copyright, dc comics, jerry siegal, superman
Companies: warner bros.


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  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 17 Aug 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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