A three-judge 9th Circuit panel in the federal court of appeals found in favor of DC Comics and Warner Bros, its parent company, in a copyright claim filed by the heirs of original Superman artist Joe Shuster (pictured). Shuster’s heirs filed for a copyright termination back in 2003 in hopes of regaining the rights to his iconic comic book superhero, which he had sold to DC in 1938. A Los Angeles district judge had already ruled in favor of the comics publisher, noting that a 1992 agreement between DC and Shuster’s siblings — in exchange for which they received lifetime pensions from DC — had superseded the 1938 agreement and re-granted DC’s copyright to Superman. The appeals panel judges split 2-1, but upheld that decision, Courthouse News reports.
The court noted in its decision that this would put an end to “another chapter in the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.” According to comics lore, Superman is somewhere between 29 and 34 years old, so the court’s claim about the duration of the ownership dispute is incorrect — it is in fact much older than the Man of Steel.
Dissenting Judge Sidney Thomas wrote that the record was “not sufficient to establish that Joe Shuster’s siblings had the authority in 1992 to revoke and supersede his 1938 copyright grant.”
— Benjamin Sutton (@bhsutton)
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)
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