Appeals court denies Shuster heirs rehearing in Superman battle


“Fact C:The heirs got the rights to Superboy and part of the rights to Superman and ya know what they did with it? Nothing.”

That’s not a fact; it’s incorrect. A federal judge ruled in 2008 that the Siegel heirs had successfully reclaimed the writer’s portion of the copyright, but that was overturned last year on appeal (as the story states). The issue of the Superboy rights, left dangling by the Ninth Circuit ruling, were resolved in DC’s favor in April (again, as the story states).

I’ll skip the first two “facts,” and add a “Fact D”: The Siegel heirs and the Shuster estate attempted to reclaim the Superman copyrights because U.S. copyright law stipulates they could. It was a bone thrown to authors when Congress extended the duration of copyright (twice), a move that greatly favored publishers and studios. The Siegel and Shuster heirs didn’t try to “cheat the system,” as you claim; they used the system available to them.

In the end, it appears they’ll be unsuccessful due to earlier agreements (the 1992 deal in the case of the Shusters, which still seems shaky, and a 2001 deal, in the case of the Siegels), but the system was indeed used. Still, I’m not sure where the “kleptomania” claim comes from, or why, repeatedly the heirs are repeatedly labeled as “greedy.”


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