The emotive issue of creator rights came to the fore again this week as another twist in the very long running battle over Superman was delivered in a New York courtroom.
On Wednesday U.S District Court Judge Otis Wright granted Warner Bros. motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether a twenty year old agreement between the company and Joe Shuster’s sister Jean Peavy, precludes the estate’s attempt to terminate a copyright grant. This is a decision which will be greeted with significant sighs of relief in the boardrooms of Warner Bros., parent company of DC Comics and owners of the Superman copyright. Especially as Warner Bros. has the new Superman movie Man of Steel in production for release next summer.
The decision will be greeted with groans of heartache from the estate of Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, and his supporters.
In Wright’s ruling he stated that “The broad and all-encompassing language of the 1992 Agreement unmistakably operates to supersede all prior grants.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter the attorney representing Shuster’s estate, Marc Toberoff, disputed the ruling. “We respectfully disagree with its factual and legal conclusions, and it is surprising given that the Judge appeared to emphatically agree with our position at the summary judgment hearing.”
It is almost inevitable that Toberoff will appeal Judge Wright’s decision.
Warner Bros. is still in dispute with the estate of Jerry Siegel, the other co-creator of Superman, and it is clear that the legal battles over one of the most recognisable comic book characters will continue for many years to come.
For more on this story head over to The Hollywood Reporter, where you can also read the full judgment from Wednesday’s hearing.