Monday, August 1, 2011

UPDATE: Cartoonist's Heirs Can Only Marvel at Disney Copyright Suit Win

The Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961). Cover a...Image via Wikipedia
Comic book heroes may reign at the box office, but in court, corporate ownership trumps the cartoonist every time.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Colleen McMahon last week ruled that Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel Entertainment, Inc., exclusively owns the copyrights to Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and a stable of superheroes, derailing the case brought by the heirs of Jack Kirby, the cartoonist who helped create the characters, reports (see "TUOL" post 3/18/10).

Judge McMahon held that Kirby inked The Fantastic Four, Spiderman and other comic book creations as works made for hire for then-Marvel domo Stan Lee, making the company the author pursuant to the 1909 U.S. Copyright Act (P.L. 60-349), which still governs works created before 1976, but otherwise has been superseded by the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. sec. 101 et seq.).

Disney paid $4 billion in 2009 to acquire Marvel Worldwide Inc.  Kirby's children are expected to appeal the decision.
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