Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Marvel's New Legal Troubles

I've been hearing a lot in the news about Marvel's legal trouble with the Kirby estate. I'm also hearing a lot of comparison to the current lawsuit over the rights to Superman.
However, in this situation, Marvel doesn't have as much to lose as DC does. The Seagal and Schuster heirs could, if they win, take Superman over to another company. This doesn't hold for Marvel Comics.
This is primarily because the Kirby estate has a higher burden of proof then the Seagal and Schuster heirs do. In order to fully regain the copyright to the Marvel characters, the Kirby estate must prove their contention that Stan Lee had nothing to do with the development of these characters.
If they can't do this, and I'm aware of no evidence to back up their claim, Stan Lee still has a copyright interest in the characters. At lest, he did until he waived those rights to Marvel. My guess is that the Kirby estate will have to share ownership of the characters with Marvel Comics. Hell, they can only lay claim to one-third of the Spider-Man copyrights.
So, comic book fans likely don't have to worry at their fictional universe being torn apart. For the moment, we should sit back, relax, and enjoy our funny books.

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