In 1938, Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel gave the world, the ‘Man of Steel’ in their debut comic book series ‘Action Comics’. Since then ‘Superman’ has enthralled comic-book lovers as well as non-comic book lovers until present day. While the much-anticipated Hollywood movie ‘Man of Steel’ is due to be released next year. The dispute over ownership of rights associated with ‘Superman’ was resolved by a US Judge who ruled that DC comics would retain their rights to ‘Superman’.
The ownership of rights came into dispute when the heirs of the co-creators of Superman intended to use the copyright reclaim mechanism to get back rights associated with the character ‘Superman’. The copyright reclaim mechanism provides for authors or their heirs to reclaim copyright ownership over works, which have been transferred, vide agreements created prior to 1978.
The Judge ruled that, the one-page agreement between DC Comics and Joe Shuster’s heirs in 1992 agreeing for higher annual payments created a new agreement that would negate the applicability of the pre-1978 rights. This ruling comes as a relief to DC Comics and its owner Warner Bros. who will retain all rights to continue using the character in books, films, television and other mediums pertaining to ‘Superman’. While this was not the first dispute faced by Time Warner over the ownership rights to Superman, having fulfilled their necessary obligations under agreements with the creators, they have continued to emerge as victors against people craving for a piece of the ‘Superhero’. It does seem the ‘Man of steel’ is on the right side!