Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

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Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Golden Wolf » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:47 pm

Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

NEW YORK – The home of superheroes including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men sued one of its most successful artists Friday to retain the rights to the lucrative characters.

The federal lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan by Marvel Worldwide Inc. asks a judge to invalidate 45 notices sent by the heirs of artist Jack Kirby to try to terminate Marvel's copyrights, effective on dates ranging from 2014 through 2019.

The heirs notified several companies last year that the rights to the characters would revert from Marvel to Kirby's estate.

The lawsuit said Kirby's work on the comics published between 1958 and 1963 were "for hire" and render the heirs' claims invalid. The famed artist died in 1994.

The lawsuit was dismissed by Kirby's attorney Marc Toberoff, who issued a statement saying the heirs were merely trying to take advantage of change to copyright law that allows artists to recapture rights to their work.

"It is a standard claim predictably made by comic book companies to deprive artists, writers, and other talent of all rights in their work," the statement said of Marvel's lawsuit.

"The Kirby children intend to vigorously defend against Marvel's claims in the hope of finally vindicating their father's work."

The statement claimed Kirby was never properly compensated for his contributions to Marvel's universe of superheroes.

"Sadly, Jack died without proper compensation, credit or recognition for his lasting creative contributions," the statement said.

Comic book characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men have become some of Hollywood's most bankable properties in recent years.

The lawsuit said the comic book titles in the notices to which Kirby claims to have contributed include "Amazing Adventures," "Amazing Fantasy," "Amazing Spider-Man," "The Avengers," the "Fantastic Four," "Fantastic Four Annual," "The Incredible Hulk," "Journey into Mystery," "Rawhide Kid," "Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos," "Strange Tales," "Tales to Astonish," "Tales of Suspense" and "The X-Men."

John Turitzin, a Marvel lawyer, said in a statement that the heirs were trying "to rewrite the history of Kirby's relationship with Marvel."

He added: "Everything about Kirby's relationship with Marvel shows that his contributions were works made for hire and that all the copyright interests in them belong to Marvel."

Marvel Entertainment, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co., sought a judge's order that the Kirby notices have no effect.
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Green Skin » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:47 am

Good for them. It would be nice to see Kirby finally get some credit.
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby BurningDoom » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:51 am

My first reaction is: "Good, Kirby finally deserves something from the work he did." But then I think about what that would do to Marvel Comics. We would be missing most of the a-listers from the Marvel Universe. Marvel would no longer be able to print many of it's top draws. That would be bad for comics and comic fans without a doubt. And at the same time, it would seem like too little too late anyways. It's not like Kirby's kids did the work, Jack did, and HE was never properly compensated which is a shame.

"Sadly, Jack died without proper compensation, credit or recognition for his lasting creative contributions," the statement said.


Okay, Jack Kirby wasn't properly compensated, true. But never given credit or recognition for his work? Give me a break. Point me out one current or past comic fan that doesn't know who Jack Kirby is or a few characters he created. I dare you. How many stories have you heard from Stan Lee that include Jack Kirby? How many recognitions and awards has he won? How many comic books have his name on it?

I think if anything these people should be pointing all those same facts out that I just did as reason as to why they deserve the compensation, instead of saying he didn't receive recognition.

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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Green Skin » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:33 am

BurningDoom wrote:My first reaction is: "Good, Kirby finally deserves something from the work he did." But then I think about what that would do to Marvel Comics. We would be missing most of the a-listers from the Marvel Universe. Marvel would no longer be able to print many of it's top draws. That would be bad for comics and comic fans without a doubt. And at the same time, it would seem like too little too late anyways. It's not like Kirby's kids did the work, Jack did, and HE was never properly compensated which is a shame.

"Sadly, Jack died without proper compensation, credit or recognition for his lasting creative contributions," the statement said.


Okay, Jack Kirby wasn't properly compensated, true. But never given credit or recognition for his work? Give me a break. Point me out one current or past comic fan that doesn't know who Jack Kirby is or a few characters he created. I dare you. How many stories have you heard from Stan Lee that include Jack Kirby? How many recognitions and awards has he won? How many comic books have his name on it?

I think if anything these people should be pointing all those same facts out that I just did as reason as to why they deserve the compensation, instead of saying he didn't receive recognition.

-Nate-



Very true, but the majority of people will site Stan Lee as the creator of Spider-man and X-men. I don't think Marvel would lose the characters, they'd just have to pay the Kirby folks. The more I think about it, the more it just seems that the Kirby kids are looking for a payday.

If they did lose them would it really be so bad? They have tons of other great characters that could easily fill the void. They'd just have to go back to writing great comics again and wouldn't be able to use easy name recognition as a crutch. If you don't think that's true think of all the crappy issues of Spiderman and X-men that are out there.

Not to mention that whoever ends up with the rights, there will always be Spiderman and Xmen comics. Could another company do any worse than some of the stuff Marvel has done with the titles? It could give rise to another comic company to compete with Marvel and DC, and I for one think that would be cool.
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Punstarr » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:07 am

I'll just post the reaction of a fellow forumite on a different site, as his opinion closely matches my own.

The Kirby "heirs" should be ashamed of themselves and ridiculed wholesale for it.

In fact, I'd say the judge this case is brought before should have a right to sue those heirs for wasting his or her time. Perhaps the heirs can be ordered to have a sign in their front yard alerting neighbors that stupid people live there.

Jack Kirby was compensated, fully, in his lifetime, for his work for hire.

Jack Kirby's heirs aren't seeking credit and recognition for Jack Kirby or his work. They're seeking benefit for something they had no part of whatsoever.

Imagine the "heirs" of Michelangelo seeking "royalities" from the Catholic Church's Sistine Chapel tour. Imagine the son of the carpenter that installed the framework of your house or the daughter of the assembly line worker that put the carburetor in your car coming to extort money from you via lawsuit because you "don't give credit where credit is due."

It's the same thing.You'd regard them as social parasites the same way you ought to regard Kirby's heirs in this case. In the off-chance that such a frivolous case does go to trial in the first place and Kirby's heirs win and Marvel gets out of producing works with characters Kirby was hired to create, what then? No more Marvel Universe as we know it, and people you've never heard of and didn't give a darn about yesterday are suddenly profitting from "owning" things they successful stole via lawsuit never to be heard from again.

Yeah, that protects "Jack Kirby's legacy."

::rolls eyes::
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby whiskeytango » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:52 am

Punstarrs quote says everything I could hope to. This in a way reminds me of the Warner Brothers and Fox Watchmen fiasco.

So i think we all know what Jack Kirbys heirs can eat all of...
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby leafman343 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:29 pm

The compensation and credit that the heirs of Kirby deserve is to see "Created by Jack Kirby" somewhere on the comicbooks he helped create. Nothing else. Getting royalties out of Marvel is nothing more than his kids wanting to ride daddy's coat tails. I'm sorry but if Jack Kirby wanted more compensation and credit for his works, he would have done something about it when he was still alive.
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Green Skin » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:54 pm

Despite anyones opinions on the matter it is established copyright law that an artist or his heirs can seek to reclaim the copyrights 56 years after inital publication. That being said, Kirby's kids are being greedy little punks. I thought it was only a few characters they were trying to get the rights for, but it's virtually all of the Marvel U's core characters. They are also disputing the copyright on theme parks, movies, and toylines! I thought it was kinda funny until I heard about the toy lines, what a bunch of D-bags!

Here's a pretty good article on the matter including bits on why Kirby left Marvel in the first place, and why he never fully pursued recognition:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2009/09/jack-kirby-the-forgotten-hero-in-marvels-grand-hollywood-adventure.html
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby Wesr » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:16 pm

I agree a few characters i could see but you can't hope to win taking on trying to get everything that made marvel marvel. This is why alot of newer companies make sure that the books are creator owned and just publish them. Antarctic press is (since i was trying to go through them) and i know alot of others are going that way.
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby leafman343 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:04 pm

I was thinking about this whole deal and I don't think there is going to be anything to worry about. It will probably end in a settlement with Marvel paying out to Kirby's heirs or Disney stepping in and throwing money at them to shut them up. :lol:
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Re: Marvel sues to keep Spider-Man, X-Men copyrights

Postby CFTofu » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:49 pm

Marvel employed the guy he created a thing for them while working for them...therefore they belong to them (Marvel). If I create something at my place of employment it belongs to the people I work for, if I design a new car I cant take it with me when I leave. Artists are still employees.
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