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Old 04-19-2013, 01:38 AM   #479
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Default Re: Siegel & Shuster vs WB: Superman and Infinite Crisis - Part 1

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Superman Birthday Present For Warner Bros As Court Ends Co-Creator Heirs Rights Case

By DOMINIC PATTEN | Thursday April 18, 2013 @ 5:54pm PDT

On the 75th anniversary today of Superman’s debut, Warner Bros got some more good news about the Man of Steel. The last elements of WB and its subsidiary DC Comics legal issues with the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel effectively came to an end Thursday with a US District Court ruling on the rights to Superboy and some Superman ads. “The Court holds that the 2001 settlement agreement between DC and the Siegels re-granted the Siegels’ Superman, Superboy, and a Superman advertisements that ran in the 1930s to DC in return for substantial advances and royalties,” wrote Judge Otis Wright III today (read it here). “The remainder of Defendants’ Motion is therefore Granted and this litigation of superhero proportions now draws to a close,” the federal judge added in not uncharacteristic fashion.

This order adds to the March 20 decision by Wright granting WB and DC a partial summary judgment in cases brought by Laura Siegel Larson and the estate of Joanne Siegel. The order confirms the studio and its subsidiary’s long contention that the multi-million dollar 2001 agreement between itself and the heirs granted them the rights to Superman character. In a February filing for summary judgment, WB and DC asked the judge to reconfirm the earlier ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in January that basically gave them full rights to the superhero character and the freedom to move forward with its Superman big screen reboot Man Of Steel and other related properties without the threat of any more legal action by the creators’ heirs and estates. The Ninth Circuit ruling in January overturned a 2008 ruling that the Siegel heirs still controlled the lucrative rights to the Man from Krypton and his younger selfbecause a binding agreement was never actually reached by the parties 12 years ago as WB and DC claim. While ending the federal court aspect of this case, Judge Wright did suggest in today’s ruling that any additional legal action should be filed in state court under a breach of contract status. Warner Bros is represented by Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline of LA firm O’Melveny & Myers. Laura Siegel Larson and the estate of Jerry Siegel are represented by attorney Marc Toberoff and Richard Kendall of Kendall Brill & Klieger.

Superboy Leaps Warner Bros Legal Hurdle

By DOMINIC PATTEN | Thursday April 18, 2013 @ 7:52pm PDT

The latest Superman reboot Man of Steel is hitting the big screen this summer. But today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in the studio’s favor means Warner Bros now has full license to make a Superboy movie. Thursday’s order by Judge Otis Wright III affirmed a contested 2001 agreement between the estate of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and DC Comics. Granted it’s premature to start talking about a Superboy movie. But not if Man of Steel‘s June 14-16 opening weekend box office is a big as anticipated.

The initial Superboy legal squabble between the Siegel estate and Warner Bros and its subsidiary DC Comics stemmed from the character’s first appearance back in 1943. Siegel pitched DC the idea of a “comic concerning the exploits of Superman as a young man” back in 1938 says the Siegel’s 2007 lawsuit against Warner Bros and DC. DC rejected the pitch yet in the middle of World War II, when Siegel was overseas in the Army, the company printed a five-page Superboy story. Siegel contended this was done without his permission and without any notice. Consequently, there was litigation, deals and disputes over young Superman until the two sides came to an agreement in 1948 over Superboy. DC paid Siegel and co-creator Joe Shuster $94,000 to end all claims, which they did.

Over the following decades, DC had its copyright to Superman and Superboy extended on various occasions. A 1976 deal with the creators extended the copyright another 19 years but unlike past extensions the new Copyright Act allowed a termination clause that could take effect in 1999. In 1997, the Siegel estate gave WB/DC the termination notice. Warner Bros contested that notice and everything seemed to be worked out in a lucrative and comprehensive 2001 settlement agreement that heirs and DC came to. Then that fell apart and the Siegel estate went to the courts to reclaim the rights to Superman and Superboy and related properties.

In 2006, a federal judge granted the Siegels the right to Superboy retroactive to 2004. In a further blow to WB, Judge Stephen Larson in 2008 granted the Siegel estate the full copyright to Superman material first published in 1938. However, the victory was relatively short-lived. Over the last year, WB/DC have received a series of rulings that has affirmed the 2001 deal with the Siegels and given the studio the rights to Superman and today Superboy.

Still, during the legal battle, Warner Bros were very careful with Superboy even as they rebooted Superman in 2006 and, after scoring a legal victory in 2009, started production on Man of Steel in 2011. The legal entanglements have kept the studio walking a tightrope on using the term ‘Superboy’ and depictions of the character. The studio has tried various workarounds in the comics. Warner Bros also only released one season of the 1988-1992 syndicated Superboy TV series on DVD, around the time the legal writs started flying. The Siegel estate filed a lawsuit, now dead, in 2004 over the Smallville TV series, which is essentially the story of Superboy. (Smallville is embroiled in a separate legal mater of its own between its co-creators and WBTV.) Smallville never actually referred to a “Superboy” except for one offhand remark. Smallville ran first on the WB weblet and then on its successor CW from 2001 to 2011. Now that caution can end and Warner Bros can put a cape back on the young Man of Steel and leap more box office in a single bound.

I was at some diplomatic party once. Got to talking to this princess who told me that when it came to Superman, I was missing the point. She told me, "His real strength lay in his generous spirit and sense of what's fair." - King Faraday

He’s much more of a working class superhero, which is why we ended the whole book with the image of a laboring Superman. He’s Everyman operating on a sci–fi Paul Bunyan scale." - Grant Morrison

"Self Portrait" By Batman
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