Thursday, October 18, 2012

Warner Bros. defeats heirs of 'Superman'

Almost 75 years after Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, the battle for ownership of the Last Son of Krypton has become an expensive and much-disputed industry unto itself. Four years ago, Siegel’s heirs won a major victory when a judge granted them half of the Superman copyright, at least regarding how Superman appeared in Action Comics #1. As reported by the LA Times, however, Shuster’s heirs have not been so lucky: Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that the family of the co-creator could not reclaim a similar 50% stake in the copyright.

In court papers obtained by EW, the ultimate decision features an exciting winding road through the last three-quarters of a century — and references similar cases involving John Steinbeck, Winnie the Pooh, and Lassie. But the crucial link in the chain is a 1992 agreement between DC and Shuster’s siblings (the artist had no other heirs), when DC agreed to pay the late Shuster’s debts and pay his sister $25,000 a year. The decision comes at a fortuitous time for Warner, which is preparing to release a new Superman film, Man of Steel, next year.

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