As some of you may know, I wrote a hub on this topic over a year ago. For years, the Seigel family has been fighting DC/WB in the courts regarding the copyright issues of the famous Superman character. You see since 1998, the heirs claim they didn't receive any of the rightful royalties for the character's profits for the "Smallville" and "Superman Returns" projects. Not only that, they also claim that the original creators, Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel, were ripped off when they sold the copyrights to superman to DC for a measly 130 dollars back in the 1930's. Everything about the character, since the rights were sold, was strictly work for hire. Therefore in a ruling in 2009, Stephen Larson, the judge, painstaking ruled which aspects of the character belonged to the heirs, and which belonged to DC.
Although DC retains the right to the character for now, they lost certain aspects to the character. Larson ruled that any depiction of Superman's origin, his birth parents, his home planet, references to Krypton exploding, his trademark costume, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Superman's job at the Daily Planet, and love triangle with Lois/Clark/Superman...all belong to Seigel's heirs.
However, DC still retains the rights to Lex Luthor, Perry White, Jimmy Olson, term kryptonite, and all of Superman's powers. Oh, they also own any expanded origins of Superman over the years too. To make a long story short in a nutshell, the upcoming Superman film in 2012 isn't going to have full access to the character's history when it comes time to reboot it. Don't get me wrong, the film is still happening. As Larson did rule if WB wasn't in production of a new film by 2011, then the heirs could rightfully sue for the royalties off whatever profits "superman returns" and "smallville" may have made over the years.
In 2013, the heirs of the Seigel and Shuster families will own the complete copyrights of Superman. Meaning they'll be free to shop the character around in various mediums to other studios outside of DC/WB. I would say that seeing Nolan producing the upcoming Superman reboot is a good sign that this is probably nothing more than a speed bump to a speedy renegotiation of the character. However, some of this latest information I found out troubles me.
Not only does it seem that the original judge presiding over this case has retired last year, it seems there's a lot of tension between the two sides that makes me question whether or not we'll see Superman stay with DC after 2012. For you see, DC/WB did launch a separate suit against the Seigel heirs' lawyer, Marc Toberoff, saying he allegedly soured negotiations in an effort to gain a substantial amount of rights to the character himself. Needless to say, this didn't bode too well, as Marc Toberoff claimed this was an illegal attempt by DC comics to slap down his clients' pursuit of the rightful copyrights of Superman.
Yeah, I don't know about you, but I'll be very surprised if Superman ends up being in another DC comic book or in a Warner Bros. produced film after 2012. If anything, you can probably expect to see Superman in a Marvel Comics teaming up with the Avengers in 2013. Seriously, it could happen, as Disney/Marvel have expressed interest. Therefore, is this the end of Superman's run in DC comics?
Although I don't read comic books anymore, this news kind of saddens me. Whenever you think about DC characters, the first three characters that come to mind is Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Therefore, I can't imagine the character being anywhere else. Then again, it's not up to me. Anyways, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think the heirs have a right to try to gain back the copyrights to the character after their grand dads were allegedly ripped off by DC back in the 1930's? Or do you think they're just being greedy, and have no right to sue based on the fact it was their own grand dads stupidity of selling the character rights in the first place? I personally don't have an opinion on the matter. I just think it's sad. Sad because superman has been a part of pop culture for nearly a 100 years now, and he's built that history mostly with DC comics/Warner Bros. Therefore, it would be a shame to see that come to an end. However, as i said before, it's not up to me.
isn't that another hub???? It doesn't bother me, however it could make a change for the man of steal. Hey I got 5.00 lets buys the rights lol
Does that open the door for us to one day shout once again...
Wow, your article explains so much. Like, why they tried to redesign Superman to look goth, why Smallville is really shutting down and why, just for the sake of asking, why???
It is very unfortunate that the next generation of children will miss out on the greatets hero of all time. I can understand the families feelings regarding the rights but for the fans, this is very devestating.
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