Marvel & Kirby Estate Settle Legal Dispute Out Of Court Days Before Case Was To Be Heard By Supreme Court

Marvel & Kirby Estate Settle Legal Dispute Out Of Court Days Before Case Was To Be Heard By Supreme Court

Jay Cochran - September 27, 2014
Just days before the Supreme Court was to decide whether to hear Kirby v. Marvel, a copyright case with implications for authors, artists and creators, the two parties agreed to settle out of court.

Jack Kirby, one of the most prolific comic-book creator/illustrator of his time who from a beat-up desk in his basement studio help create characters like X-Men, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, Fantastic Four and Hulk for Marvel Comics. In 1976 the Copyright Act was passed, which permitted artists and their families to try and recapture their copyrights from companies like Marvel by statutorily terminating prior grants. This allowed artists to negotiate new grants which reflected their works' true value. However this did not include what is known as "work-for-hire."

In 2009, Kirby's children served Marvel/Disney with termination notices for use of the character Kirby help create, basically claiming his work was done on a freelance basis and that Marvel had always avoided any contractual commitment to Kirby. Marvel then sued claiming Kirby's work was "work-for-hire". The district court and Second Circuit summarily ruled for Marvel.

On May 14, the Supreme Court expressed interest in the case and ordered Marvel to respond. On June 13, amicus briefs supporting the Kirbys were filed and the case was expected to be heard by the Supreme Court on September 29.

According to Deadline this joint statement between Marvel and The Kirby Estate was released:

“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”


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