DC Comics Retains Superman Rights

Who needs an octogenarian superhero, Superman (born ca. 1938) when you have a strong infrastructure and volunteers to help get a metropolis back up running after a hurricane?!

In 2010, DC Comics sued siblings of artist Joe Shuster seeking a judgment that they, as his heirs, lost their rights to reclaim copyright in the famous superhero. Shuster’s are represented by Marc Toberoff, founding partner of Toberoff & Associates. Plaintiffs are represented by Daniel Petrocelli, partner with O’Melveny & Myers.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II ruled that the heirs signed away their rights to reclaim copyright about two decades ago. Shuster’s sister and brother have been receiving annual pension payments from DC Comics since they relinquished their copyright in 1992. They had hoped to reclaim their rights arguing that the copyright agreement with DC Comics could be terminated pursuant to the 1978 mechanism that permits creators of works reclaim their rights. However, the judge ruled that by accepting a “higher annual payments” Shuster’s heirs created a new agreement and the pre-1978 right was no longer applicable to this case.

The recent ruling means that DC comics will retain all rights to the use of the character in books, movies, and other products. DC Comics acquired Superman and other works created by Shuster and Jerry Siegel for $412 in 1938.

Source: Boston.com; The American Lawyer; Associated Press.

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