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Superman Co-Creator's Family Fails in Bid to Reclaim Copyright
The Litigation Daily
Back in January, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and its lawyers at O'Melveny & Myers won a crucial circuit court ruling in their battle with the family of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, which seeks to recapture copyrights in Superman comic books. The Siegel family has spent the last two months arguing that the appellate decision didn't spell the end of its copyright battle, but on Wednesday, a U.S. district judge ruled that it did.
In a 16-page summary judgment ruling [PDF], U.S. District Judge Otis Wright in Los Angeles determined that the Siegel estate signed away its statutory right to reclaim Superman copyrights in a 2001 agreement with WB. Wright wrote that he was compelled to make that finding because of a ruling that WB won at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on January 10. Wright promised to enter an order formally dismissing the Siegel family's lawsuit as soon as he resolved minor issues left in the case.
Siegel created the Superman character in the 1930s along with Joe Shuster. The duo famously sold their rights to the character to Detective Comics for a pittance in 1938. (DC became DC Comics Inc., which is now a subsidiary of WB.) Shuster and Siegel died in 1992 and 1996, respectively. In the late 1990s, their estates sought to reclaim rights to the Man of Steel through the so-called "termination rights" provision of the Copyright Act, which allows artists to get back original copyrights 75 years after they signed them away.
Read the full story at The AmLaw Litigation Daily (subscription required).