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Superman co-creator's copyright claim against Warner Bros. falls short

Many Sacramento movie buffs are probably eagerly anticipating this summer's release of Zack Snyder's "The Man of Steel." It's the latest reincarnation of what has been one of Hollywood's most popular and lucrative franchises: Superman.

Recently, Warner Bros., the studio behind "The Man of Steel," won an important court victory against the second of Superman's two creators.

Last Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over district courts in California, held that Warner Bros.' DC Comics unit and the estate of Jerome Siegel had a valid 2001 agreement that gave Warner Bros. rights to use the Superman concept.

Siegel, who created Superman in 1932 with Joseph Shuster, had sought to invalidate the agreement under the 1976 Copyright Act. Under that federal law, earlier courts had held that Siegel and Shuster had recaptured some (but not all) of the rights with respect to Superman.

That the court upheld the 2001 agreement puts this issue to rest, at least temporarily, because earlier, a different court had ruled for Warner Bros. and against Shuster.

What you can see here is that copyrights are a very valuable business asset and can be quite lucrative if they are properly retained and protected.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Warner Bros. Wins Blockbuster Victory in Legal Batter for Superman," Eriq Gardner, Jan. 10, 2013

  • In our Sacramento law firm, we help people properly acquire and secure their copyrights. For further information, you could visit the Copyright section of our website.

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