LOS ANGELES (AP) — DC Comics will retain its rights to Supermanafter a judge ruled Wednesday that the heirs of one of the superhero’s co-creators signed away their ability to reclaim copyrights to the Man of Steel roughly 20 years ago.
The ruling means that DC Comics and its owner Warner Bros. will retain all rights to continue using the character in books, films, television and other mediums, including a the film reboot planned for next year.
DC Comics sued the heirs of artist Joe Shuster in 2010, seeking a ruling that they lost their ability to try to reclaim the superhero’s copyrights in 1992. U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II agreed, stating that Shuster’s sister and brother relinquished any chance to reclaim Superman copyrights in exchange for annual pension payments from DC Comics.
Shuster and writer Jerry Siegel created Superman, who made his comic book debut in 1938 in Action Comics (hash)1. Both men battled for increased compensation for the superhero throughout their lives and Siegel’s heirs have also fought DC for a stake in copyrights to Superman.
Shuster’s heirs had argued that the copyright agreements could be terminated under provisions that allowed creators of works made before 1978 a mechanism to reclaim their rights. Wright ruled that the decision by Shuster’s sister to accept higher annual payments created a new agreement and the pre-1978 rights no longer applied. Continue reading