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Thursday, October 18, 2012 

A judge in the Superman lawsuit rules in WB's favor

Earlier in the week, Jerry Siegel's daughter Laura Siegel Larson wrote a public letter about how WB has been blatantly refusing to honor their full rights to the Man of Steel.

The AP Wire now reports that a lawsuit judge has ruled that the Shuster heirs signed away their rights to their half of Superman:
DC Comics will retain its rights to Superman after a judge ruled Wednesday that the heirs of one of the superhero's co-creators signed away their ability to reclaim copyrights to the Man of Steel roughly 20 years ago.

The ruling means that DC Comics and its owner Warner Bros. will retain all rights to continue using the character in books, films, television and other mediums, including a the film reboot planned for next year. [...]

Shuster's heirs had argued that the copyright agreements could be terminated under provisions that allowed creators of works made before 1978 a mechanism to reclaim their rights. Wright ruled that the decision by Shuster's sister to accept higher annual payments created a new agreement and the pre-1978 rights no longer applied.

"We respectfully disagree with its factual and legal conclusions, and it is surprising given that the judge appeared to emphatically agree with our position at the summary judgment hearing," the Shusters' attorney Marc Toberoff wrote in a statement. He declined further comment, and Warner Bros. and its attorney Daniel Petrocelli also declined comment on the ruling.

Toberoff had argued that an agreement altering copyright interests would have been much longer than the one-page 1992 agreement between DC Comics and Shuster's sister, Joan Shuster Peavy, and his brother, Frank.
In all due honesty, I think the Siegel (and Shuster) estate has the right to make a case for reclaiming the copyright and its benefits, and it's angering that WB is continuing their vehement refusal to honor previous court agreements, spending $35 million on legal costs that would be better given to the Siegel/Shuster heirs instead.

Considering how shoddily they've treated the Man of Steel in the comics, if anywhere, that's one more reason why their bearhug hold on Superman is very sad. If I could acquire ownership of the publishing arm for DC, I'd want to let the Siegel/Shuster estates in on a deal that would provide them with plenty of benefits for what earnings could be made off of future Superman stories and a say in the creative control. All the kind of things that the cold-blooded reptiles running Time Warner today won't even give a single thought to.

I hope the Siegel estate appeals this ruling again (Update: as told in this Hollywood Reporter article, it looks like there will be). I'd say it's time for them to go on the airwaves to make their case. But I wouldn't count on CNN giving them screen time, because Time Warner owns them. In fact, if the judge had ruled in the Siegel's favor, there's a chance the MSM wouldn't say anything about this case.

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