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Wednesday, July 28, 2010 

The copyright wars: how they could be solved, and even save the universes in focus

I read this recent article in Variety, which talks about the legal battles being waged by the heirs and estates of Siegel & Shuster, and Jack Kirby, for rights to the famous superheroes and such that they created in their times. The litigation issues aside, something here got me to thinking:
Another suit, filed by the estate of artist Jack Kirby last year, involves a much greater breadth of material: They are seeking ownership or co-ownership in dozens of characters controlled by Marvel Entertainment, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. Marvel and its new corporate parent, Disney, are challenging the claims, and it may end in a long showdown in court.
When I read this part of the article, it made me think of a possible way that Marvel and DC could be saved/rescued from the grip of the uncaring executives and editors who now hold sway over them: what if the estates of these famous figures could gain ownership of Marvel's and DC's book publishing outfits, and own the rights to publishing books featuring the heroes, supporting characters, and universes?

That might be the perfect way one day to return Marvel and DC to real glory, and the heirs and estates could even join forces with book publishing companies like Harper-Collins to own and run the big two, but sadly, it's only a pipe dream for now. Yet maybe it is possible to do it, and thus return control of DC and Marvel as comic book publishers to the hands of those who're more responsible and deserving than people like DiDio and Quesada are.

Let's also remember that Disney, when they bought Marvel last year, likely didn't do it for the sake of the comic book publishing arms, but rather to exploit the moviemaking and licensing potential. I figure the book biz would be the least they'd care about, and so if someone with the money wanted to buy that part of the business, they'd be willing to work something out. Then, there'd be 2 different companies, not unlike how Atari split into 2 companies for several years back in the day, one that designed video games and the other that built computer software, or even how Volvo split into 2 companies for cars and trucks/buses after the Ford company bought the car arm of the Swedish motor company in 1998. Disney and Warner could maintain the rights to making movies and toys based on several thousand characters from Marvel and DC, while the book publishing arms could be an exclusive business of their own for just printed books and such.

Is such a scenario workable? Yes, it is, but as I said, for now it remains a pipe dream. But if the idea is floated around more, it could be considered more seriously.

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Everybody needs to read this article! Apologists and ass-kissers can fuck off!

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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