Should Superhero Superpowers Be Considered Property?

from the the-debate-is-on dept

We've had many, many debates around here over the question of whether or not "intellectual property" is actually property. So it seems like many of you might enjoy this article, sent in by johnjac, where some attorneys with way too much free time on their hands discuss whether or not superpowers possessed by super heroes should be considered property or not. I will give you just this short snippet as a taste, which I assume will make you rush over to read the whole thing:
If Superman uses the power of a blue sun to bestow superpowers on another person, is that a taxable asset transfer?  Who would want to try to collect?

If two superheroes marry, share a power, then later divorce, could one be forced to give up the power during the division of assets?  Does it matter who had the power originally?  Even though the shared power may be a non-rival good, one of the two superheroes may still have a claim to exclusivity.  Perhaps the power is a trademark ability of one character, or maybe they signed a superhero pre-nuptial agreement that determined the disposition of any shared abilities.

If one superhero lends a power to another (or to a normal person), does that superhero have an implied right to its return?  In other words, is a bailment created?  I think the answer here is yes.

Filed Under: copyright, intellectual property, law, property, superheroes, superpowers

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  1. identicon
    Darryl, 11 Dec 2010 @ 2:42am

    What about LL

    whether or not "intellectual property" is actually property.

    we'll one would have to assume the blue sun actually exists, and the knowledge of its capabilities must also actually exist.

    Would it be a taxable asset transfer, if it was an asset the answer would be YES.

    Obviously, the knowledge that the blue sun has the ability to bestow superpowers is an asset, so knowledge is an asset.

    But it depends on what superman does, does he show the mortal who to gain super powers, or does he apply his IP and give him the results of that IP, but not necesserly the IP.

    Superman would be silly to show him how to do it, so he could do more and more people, until everyone has the superpower, therefore no one has..

    You might want to watch the movie "the supers" by Pixar, it explains that concept well :)

    But I digress, lets get back to the critical, weekend article at hand.

    Does superman have the copyright right, or own the IP to the blue sun ? if he does not,, who does ?

    Because if superman does not have the legal right to bestow powers on others, even if he has the ability he would be in breach of IP laws, (assuming it was IP)..

    So if there are blue sun able to give superpowers, and no one knows that happens. (ie no IP) then the physical fact the blue suns gives powers is of no value..

    If you know that blue suns give powers, that information, that knowledge makes the physical entity of great value, whereas before it has no value.

    so without the IP, without the knowledge of what a blue sun can do, the fact it can do it is worthless, as no one knows that fact...

    So its the IP that gives the physical entity value, and without the IP that entity has no value.

    knowing something can do something is of value, as opposed to being aware of something, but not seeing the capabilities of that thing.

    If Superman uses the power of a blue sun to bestow superpowers on another person, is that a taxable asset transfer? Who would want to try to collect?

    No, if I invent a machine that gives some superpower, I put you in it, and make you a superman.. but I have not shown you how my machine works, or shown you the design.

    I'm not transfering any IP to you, im transfering a service (making you a super), The only IP or asset im transferring is telling you I have the ability to make you a super..

    But NOT HOW I do it..

    When it boils right down to it, all we have as people, or supwerhero's is our IP. Its not what you own that allows you to survive in the world.. Its what you know..

    And to claim what you know, somehow has no value is a bit sad, would you not say ?

    You can lose all your physical property, and you can continue on. You cannot lose your IP and function as a human..

    So IP, is what defines us, its what defines all living things, their knowledge and abilities enables them to function.

    If you do not have that knowledge or abilities, you have nothing.

    So in that context, what else has more value than IP, and how is what you know not an asset, and how is it not what makes you or enables you to function, and progress as a living, thinking being?

    IP is knowing things of value, or just knowing things, everything you know, or a great deal of it, as of incredable value to you.. so much so you cannot function without that knowledge.

    Some IP, (certainly not all) is of commercial value, that means people are willing to pay either for that knowledge, or for the benefit of that knowledge, (ie, the superhero machine I invented)..

    If you are willing to pay me a million dollars to be made a superhero (even for a day). Because I have IP, or knowledge of how to do that..

    That IP is of value to me, and if there are no laws protecting that IP, I will have to keep my method a secret.

    Like the military has to do with their IP, do you think when the military shoot a missile at you they are doing a 'technology or asset transer' ?

    Perhaps, they could send them a missile, then a bill for it!

    but you dont sell IP, you sell that product of that IP, you sell the ability to become a superman, but how the knowledge of how to do it yourself.

    So the value in any IP is what you make of it, in some cases that can be a massive amount of money, or nothing at all.

    But its still what you make of it, not it in itself.


    what is far more interesting is how many occurances of the initials LL occur in superman movie's?

    to get you started, Lex Luther, and Louis Lane.. how many more can you think of??

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