Marvel Goes To Court To Stop Termination Claims By Estates & Heirs Of Artists & Scribes

Marvel Goes To Court To Stop Termination Claims By Estates & Heirs Of Artists & Scribes


Outsiders - September 25, 2021
Termination notices have been sent from the U.S. Copyright Office on behalf of the estates and heirs for comic book legends like Ditko, Stan Lee, Don Rico (read that complaint here), Don Heck, Gene Colan, and the still-living Larry Lieber to Marvel for "all pre-January 1, 1978 exclusive or non-exclusive grants of the transfer or license of the renewal copyright(s)." The effective dates "ranging from May 29 to July 17, 2023," are based on Marvel's filings.

“Any contributions Steve Ditko made to the Works were done at Marvel’s expense because Marvel paid Steve Ditko a per-page rate for his contributions, Steve Ditko made those contributions to the Works with the expectation that Marvel would pay him, and Steve Ditko did not obtain any ownership interest in or to his contributions,” said Marvel’s heavy hitter outside counsel Daniel Petrocelli said to the estate of the famed Spider-Man artist in one of five complaints about declaratory relief filed in federal court in California and New York.

The Copyright Act of 1976 allows heirs to pull the plug on licenses granted or transferred for a copyrighted work in particular situations with a fully executed notice. If Marvel should happen to lose in court, they will not lose the ownership of these created characters. They would retain a co-ownership that would involve payouts to the other co-owners, among other requirements. Along with that profit-sharing, regardless of what happens in the federal courts, these rights only apply to the United States, not elsewhere.

“A declaration is necessary and appropriate at this time in light of the purported effective termination dates and the ongoing exploitation of the Works and the development of new works derivative of the Works,” said Marvel’s complaint(s), asking the courts to step in against the moves orchestrated to some degree by corporate thorn Marc Toberoff.

“Since these were works made for hire and thus owned by Marvel, we filed these lawsuits to confirm that the termination notices are invalid and of no legal effect,” Petrocelli told sources.

Marc Toberoff: "I represent Larry Lieber (Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man) , the estates of Steve Ditko (Spiderman, Dr. Strange), Don Heck (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye), Don Rico (Black Widow), and Gene Colan (Captain Marvel, Falcon, Blade). In 2010-2014 I successfully represented the family of Jack Kirby, the co-creator of Marvel’s most famous superheroes, in a case where Marvel similarly sued Kirby’s family for exercising their rights under the Copyright Act."

Source: Deadline





Comments...

Last 10 comments - ( Read All Posts )
tarot - 2021-09-27 @ 6:08 pm
On 9/27/2021 at 6:44 PM, Hogun said:

Are they serious? I sense a lot of greed. Marvel could just give more credit to Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.

while their is greed in this from both parties, it more about keeping the character in Marvel. If the heirs do get the rights to the characters, they could easily take the character away from Marvel and sell them to other companies. It wouldn't happen but that's the worst possibility.

And Marvel has always given credit to Kirby and Ditko. Hell ditko would receive royality checks that he refused to cash.

Hogun - 2021-09-27 @ 5:44 pm

Are they serious? I sense a lot of greed. Marvel could just give more credit to Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.

leokearon - 2021-09-26 @ 1:20 pm
On 9/25/2021 at 11:06 PM, ADour said:

Unfortunately it was, I even remember being in a Discord server that had to kick a dude because he was having a meltdown over the way Lee's deaths would affect the comics.

That was a genuine fear when Stan decided to stop writing both Spidey and the F4 full time. Everyone even Stan feared they wouldn't survive without him.

JayC - 2021-09-26 @ 12:59 pm

First if your post goes off topic and/or is attacking towards other board members it will be deleted. End of story.

Second anyone who thinks Marvel/Disney will loose the rights to any of these characters I would say you are crazy. Most likely these folks are hoping they can be a pain enough in Disney's ass they will get some kind of nice little payoff.

IMO there are no saints here. Back when most of these characters where being created no one foresaw them becoming the billion dollar money makers they are today and many creators back then when the comic book business was barley a blip on anyone's radar happily took the crumbs they were tossed. Once those characters started becoming big money makers in large part thanks to the evil companies in question then of course people wanted more of the pie. Some got more others didn't.

From everything I have read Stan Lee was no saint. At best he turned a blind eye as he profited while his fellow creators were screwed over. Marvel was making more and more money from their creations and Stan went right along with it cause he was benefiting from that. That's not to say he didn't do good things for the industry as a whole and helped play a role in making those characters what they are today in large part with his marketing skills and less about which ones he may have or have not personally created himself. Does that Make Stan a bad man??? I have no idea.

This is all business and business has and always will be cut throat.

leokearon - 2021-09-26 @ 6:49 am
On 9/26/2021 at 3:30 AM, Atlantis said:

I certainly believe in honoring contracts, and at the same time I think there's room for some fairness. Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Colan, Cockrum etc. created content for the company and presumably were paid for their work, yes, but those works were exactly what built Marvel properties in the mega million juggernauts they are today. There's something wrong when a Disney executive's kid, who wasn't even born when these guys were sweating their butts off to create these stories, is getting millions off licenses and movies and toys and whatnot, while the creators themselves are on public assistance, have zero health insurance, and live in squalor. Disney, Warner, etc can do better.

Fairness doesn't exist in comics. I already mentioned what Martin Goodman did with the pay cheques. Even to this day creators are being screwed over; Ed Brubaker makes more money from his Winter Solider appearance than he does from the actual character.

mako - 2021-09-26 @ 4:12 am
On 9/25/2021 at 9:30 PM, Atlantis said:

There's something wrong when a Disney executive's kid, who wasn't even born when these guys were sweating their butts off to create these stories, is getting millions off licenses and movies and toys and whatnot, while the creators themselves are on public assistance, have zero health insurance, and live in squalor. Disney, Warner, etc can do better.

Way back in the day, while I worked at the local Art Center, I was lucky enough to become good friends with a former colorist for Marvel while she was teaching down here (a comic book class for kids no less). To be fair, she didn't leave "The House of Ideas" under any animosity, but the seasoned Jersey-Girl also wasn't shy about sharing corporate horror stories with a starry-eyed Arky.

The usual moral of her cautionary tales? If you make it to "The Game," watch your butt. Whether your an assistant to an assistant, or one of the "Rock-Star" artists, creatives are nothing but kibble for the corporate big-dogs.

Atlantis - 2021-09-26 @ 2:30 am
On 9/25/2021 at 9:15 AM, leokearon said:

" ...many comic creators make sure they retain the rights of the characters....It was one of the main reasons Image was founded and quickly lead to one of the famous rights wars in comics between McFarlane and Gaiman...."

I certainly believe in honoring contracts, and at the same time I think there's room for some fairness. Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Colan, Cockrum etc. created content for the company and presumably were paid for their work, yes, but those works were exactly what built Marvel properties in the mega million juggernauts they are today. There's something wrong when a Disney executive's kid, who wasn't even born when these guys were sweating their butts off to create these stories, is getting millions off licenses and movies and toys and whatnot, while the creators themselves are on public assistance, have zero health insurance, and live in squalor. Disney, Warner, etc can do better.

Gigantor - 2021-09-26 @ 2:28 am

With the way today's writers are abusing certain characters and turning them into into characters they were never intended to be by their creators, I don't blame em for suing Marvel. Their characters are getting desecrated left n right.

icematta - 2021-09-25 @ 11:24 pm
On 9/25/2021 at 12:15 PM, leokearon said:

Not in comics, many comic creators make sure they retain the rights of the characters. In fact, in most fields of publishing it author retains the rights. It was one of the main reasons Image was founded and quickly lead to one of the famous rights wars in comics between McFarlane and Gaiman.

Heck, Martin Goodwin even put a contract on the back of the cheque that stated that had to give up all copyright rights. Of course, you had to sign it in order to endorse the cheque and get your money.

Yeah, you said it, Image not Marvel or DC, not all contracts have that, they usually keep the characters their creators made during their time at the company...

tarot - 2021-09-25 @ 10:11 pm
On 9/25/2021 at 11:06 PM, ADour said:

Unfortunately it was, I even remember being in a Discord server that had to kick a dude because he was having a meltdown over the way Lee's deaths would affect the comics.

That's actually funny because Stan Lee hasnt been involved in writing marvel comics for decade (beside a couple of specials)

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