Monday, March 31, 2008

Fans Bash Siegel Superman Ruling

It has never occurred to me that there might actually be comic fans who are against creator's rights. But, the reaction by a selection of fans on the Blog@Newsarama boards regarding the recent Superman copyright ruling educated me otherwise. Their basic opinions, to sum up:

1) The Siegels are "greedy"
2) It was Siegel & Schuster's own fault for losing the rights
3) Time Warner is being victimized
4) The Siegels are "stealing" Superman

Meanwhile, people on the Bendis board are floored at the Newsarama forum's reaction.

Here is a selection of the negativity against the Siegel ruling on the board in question:

"Why they sold the rights they shouldnt get anything."

"Siegle and Schuster signed away the rights. Its their own fault. I don’t think they should have any creative control over the franchise. They should have huge, huge, HUGE royalties, but not creative control. Its not theirs."

"They shouldnt even get royalties they gave up that when they signed over the rights."


"Gimme a break. They were paid in 1938. They were paid off in 1968. Again in 1978. They kept taking the money and suing again, Time Warner will keep this tied up for decades and that’s good."

"As the end consumers.. we will be the ones paying for this. Keep this in mind next time comics prices rise, or your favorite book gets cancelled because it’s not selling well enough (less profit = less flexibility), or when they decide that making a Superman Movie or cartoon is not financially viable because of “licensing” fees."

"Total Crap! The families are just money hungry."

"I’m sorry, the ruling may be correct under the law, but in that case, it’s a bad law. The property should belong to the party that bought it, under the terms of the agreement between the buyer and the seller. The government has no business changing the law, as it did in 1976, to (among other things) take Superman away from its rightful owners. I sympathize with the Siegels, but this is just wrong."

"Yes, shame on us for calling shenanigans on the greed of people who did nothing to deserve it. Was the deal those two guys signed appropriate, given what Superman has become? Probably not, but hindsight is twenty-twenty. Punishing Time-Warner now for something that a former version of one of its many subsidiaries did decades ago is grossly immoral. The justice system you people have is hopelessly flawed if this is allowed to happen."

Created by Siegel and Shuster
Raised by DC
Killed by the Siegels"

"In retrospect, DC (or National Comics) should have avoided giving its artists and writers any credit at all. Perhaps they should adopt a policy of total creative anonymity now, and consider all of its comics to be authored by the corporation."

"Seigels family was just on Foxs and say they don’t care about Superman or the Fans They want the Money because they don’t feel like working the rest of their life"

"i really don’t know what to say. to be honest i’m not happy because i’m worried that we might lose superman forever. i know. selfish. but can’t help it. that’s just the way im feeling at the moment."


  1. wow, those comments are pretty psychotic.

    many people still have the "hourly slave wage" mentality, that you should only be paid for the exact hours you work.

    i get paid every time a client reuses one of my illustrations. its frequently a small amount, but other forms of publishing recognize the inherent financial rights people have when they create something.

    DC took advantage of S&S, and did so for decades. they(along with Neal Adams!) had to fight for every little crumb DC threw their way.

    DC gave a cut of Batman profits to Bob Kane over the years, because he was a sharper businessman than S&S were. that to me proved that DC knew what the "proper" thing to do was, they just weren't able to fool Kane into thinking otherwise.

  2. It has never occurred to me that there might actually be comic fans who are against creator's rights.

    Really? Or is this a rhetorical "never"?

    As soon as I heard the story, I knew what I'd find if I glanced at the Newsarama message boards. Fans more upset about the fact that something might impact their monthly comics fix than any kind of creative rights. DC fanbois upset that this might mean that DC takes a hit while Marvel pulls ahead. It's just another manifestation of "fan entitlement" combined with the overall conservative leanings of the average superhero comic fan AND the weird Marvel vs. DC dynamic that shows up amongst the hardcore.

    It's the same dynamic that played out when the first Superboy story broke, when Joe Simon was suing Marvel over the rights to Captain America, and when this story first started back in '99-'00. If there HADN'T been this vocal minority screaming to the rafters about "greedy creators" and "greedy heirs" I would have been surprised.

  3. "Really? Or is this a rhetorical "never"?"

    honestly, when my boyfriend told me about this last night, I thought he was joking. Then I read the thread this morning.

    The fact that the rights of the Corporation are so vigorously defended on this thread is really the best part. This is the same type of Corporation who gets slammed by the fans as being bastards when character X dies or gets divorced or something.

    Which then really boils down to "everything should be in the service of the fans."

  4. Gotta agree with Val, I thought that all geeks, especially comic geeks, were anti-"The Man." This reaction surprises the hell out of me.

  5. It's pretty stomach-churning stuff.

    But like Jer, I wasn't particularly surprised. Similar threads (though rarely so long!) happen with the Joe Simon/Captain America case, and whenever the Superboy case is mentioned.

  6. You pretty much summed up the contradictory stupidity of those arguments, Valerie:


    How many of these posters actually even read Superman comics, by the way?

    I want to second what you've written here and say that I'm happy, happy, happy as the Happy King of Happy-by-the-Sea about this ruling.

    In fact, if it were up to me, the heirs of Siegel and Schuster would be getting complete ownership of the Superman trademark.

    I'm hoping Jack Kirby's family will get a little something out of this eventually. I mean he only created or co-created practically all of Marvel and a sizable portion of current DC.

    Siegel and Schuster cut the best deal they could at the time, given the ridiculous set-up of "work for hire" that ruled corporate comics back then and still rule them today. This is just a small correction of a sleazy injustice done at the time.

    It's funny how some people rush to defend the bullies and the big cats with all the money and power behind them when somehow, the underdog manages to pull off an upset victory. If the little people don't fight back and defend themselves, the big will run roughshod over them everytime.

    In fact, I was born in a country whose entire creation myth is predicated on that very notion. If there'd been Internet messageboards back then, I guess there would've been angry kids writing all-caps screeds about how the minutemen and the Liberty Boys were victimizing King George.

    I'm happy. Really!

  7. I don’t think anyone should own the intellectual property rights to something created in the 1930’s. Superman should have gone into the public domain a long, long time ago. With that said, if anyone is going to have ownership to something created so long ago, it might as well be the creators. Or in this case, the people related through either marriage or bloodline to at least one of the creators.

    Hopefully this will pave the way for William Shakespeare’s relatives to finally get what is owed to them. :)

  8. "I don’t think anyone should own the intellectual property rights to something created in the 1930’s"

    I agree. I can't wait until Alan Moore does a comic featuring Superman, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, and Conan. Oh, and Little Orphan Annie to boot!

  9. some of this stuff is so darn funny that i can't bring myself to be disturbed or irked by it. (and for the record, i write comics professionally.)

    this, in particular, is comedic gold:

    "In retrospect, DC (or National Comics) should have avoided giving its artists and writers any credit at all. Perhaps they should adopt a policy of total creative anonymity now, and consider all of its comics to be authored by the corporation."

    talk about a brilliant way to send all of your talent stampeding over to marvel, or elsewhere. golly.

    and imagine what DC's section of an issue of PREVIEWS would look like. imagine the fun the fans could have arguing online before the books even hit the stands. 'no, no, look at the dialogue on page two--i'm sure grant morrison wrote this issue of green lantern now!' 'sombody ought to lock you up! you're crazy! that's clearly matt fraction pastiching mark millar!'


    seriously, though--this outbreak does suggest a couple of interesting subtexts.

    one: these comic fans have only the most nebulous idea what it's like to make a living writing or drawing comics.

    two: they may lack even a basic historical awareness of the ways that creators' rights and compensation have evolved over the years--and the very real ways that evolution has benefitted the medium.

    three: the adventures of imaginary characters mean more to some folks than the lives of real people do.

    four: some of these folks may never have read the very early superman stories. :)

    five: if some of these folks were privy to some of the behind-the-scenes going-ons that a lot of us have seen over the years, their heads would probably explode.

    all in all...

    no surprises here, really.

  10. And I think that these major corporations should be thinking of a "plan B" because they won't be able to hold on to the rights to these older properties forever. Even without copyright challenges from the original creators or families of original creators, there is the issue of public domain.

  11. For an example of this mentality in Microcosm, every time Warren Ellis leaves a Marvel book to pursue more personal work, you can count on some fans to react like he just barbecued their dog.

  12. Joel -
    agree with you mostly, but about that creation myth thing: Myths do not always tell the truth or not the whole truth. Of course there would have been screeds against the Sons of Liberty etc. had there been internet message boards in the 18th century, what do you expect when a sizeable part of the population of the 13 colonies (I've seen estimates of up to a third for certain phases) were Loyalist in sympathy? And by the way, many if of the leaders of the Revolution were in fact "fat cats" and the majority saw nothing wrong with slavery, enshrining it in the Constitution after their victory. Not to mention that a lot of people profited from stealing the property of the thousands of Loyalists who were driven from the country...

  13. Anonymous11:00 AM

    In all fairness, it's quite possible that Warren Ellis did barbecue their dog

  14. I've read a few of the FAQs about the ruling online, but I haven't seen this questions answered yet - how much longer until Superman is public domain anyway? If he turns 70 this year, surely it can't be more than 5-10 years away.

    I'm happy about the ruling as well. It's not only money, but some vindication for all they went through over the years. And I'm not the least bit surprised that some immature fans are outraged by the ruling. And that level of fan, it's all about gratification. And I guess it's easier to blame "greedy" creators who might deprive them of their fix than "greedy" corporations.

    I guess the thing that remains to be seen, given the years of continued legal rangling yet to come and the impending public domain issue, is how much will it ultimately mean for the family.

  15. You know, whenever I hear these arguments that Siegel & Schuster were not so bad off, etc, I think of the following anecdote I read:

    The story goes that either Siegel or Schuster was so destitute towards the end that one of them had sent samples or work to an editor -- and when the editor opened the envelope, actual fleas jumped out. That's the living condition one of them was reduced to.

  16. I wouldn't have a problem with certain characters having extended trademarks/copyrights/whatever.

    Even though Mickey Mouse should be public domain, it makes a certain amount of sense that Disney should keep some rights to the character. It is so closely tied to their brand.

    Same thing for Superman/Batman and WB. I wouldn't have a problem with them keeping rights to those characters. Corporations aren't evil, and they are pretty much owned by regular people and write paychecks to regular people. A little bending of rules might make a lot of sense to help these companies from losing a big part of their brand.

    That being said, the heirs to Siegel and Shuster should be getting regular checks from WB, so hopefully that will happen eventually. Too bad the original creators missed out though, it should have been settled better in the 30's.

  17. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but unless specifically handed over, I think the rights to a character ought to die with the creator. I don't know the specifics about this case so I may be putting my foot in my mouth, but...who's to say the family would whore out the character any less than DC does? Nothing's more painful, unproductive, and divisive than heirs and family bickering over an estate they didn't personally earn.

    I can maybe understand inheriting a house or a car or (maybe) a company, but the right to alter someone's creative vision? Using the image is one thing, but writing stories is something else entirely. If the creator didn't actively give their consent, I'm not sure ANYONE has the RIGHT to claim creative license. The idea makes me shudder just thinking about it.

    Then again, I'm also of the paradoxical mind that these rights should eventually expire. I mean, if your creation lasted 100 years after your death, then I think it has outlived any hold your memory ever had on it and become part of the cultural fabric. I mean, where would we be if we were still forbidden from mentioning characters from stories like Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, or Frankenstein by name?

    Crazy, I know.

  18. There is no way to defend the comments that are being made against the creators. It is disgusting to see fans turing on creator's families and . . . it's just bad.

    I'd like to voice a bit of sympathy for the reasonable fan for a minute though. When people talk about "fan entitlement" they do it with such venom and condesention, and I can understand that. But a point I would like to make is that for many people, Superman is not a cultural icon or a brand or a property. He is a character in a living, breathing story that they are invested in. There is a bit of fear at the prospect that the story we have become involved in will be derailed.

    Does that mean that those feelings should come in the way of a real world legal battle, of course not. And anyone who holds ill will towards the families of the creators and don't wish them all the proceeds they deserve should reexamine their feelings. But I don't think a reasonable fan needs to apologize for caring about the story they have grown to love and have paid to read.

    One other poitn I would like to make is that not everyone who loses the rights to characters do it with eyes closed. In many cases it is a sacrifice they make to get "the big break". The first time I worked in television I was given with Nickelodeon/Viacom that stated any of the characters in our program were going to be owned by them to be used as they saw fit. It was a bad contract and a standard one for new and unknown creators solicited by them. Me and my partners knew this, but it was more important to us to get "in the door". I can't imagine it was much different in the 1930's.

    I'm not saying that that the Siegel's shouldn't get all the money and rights they have coming. I think they should and am happy by the decision. I'm just saying that people make some tough decisions when they're trying to make their dreams come true.

  19. @towniebastard:

    Superman will never become public domain because the statute on copyright is consistantly extended everytime Mickey Mouse's copyright is set to expire. Disney lobbyists will never allow that Mouse to enter public domain.

  20. Anonymous12:02 PM

    I wish I could be surprised by the fan reaction, but I'm not. It is sad that fans are spending so much time defending the big corporation. It's the kind of thing that puts me off reading comics.

    If someone is going to hold the rights to Superman, it should be the Siegel and Shuster (note: no c in the name -- like Wayne & Shuster, not Simon & Schuster) families. And they certainly could stand to get a bit more cash from Superman.

    But as others have said, really Superman should be in the public domain. This is Disney's fault, among others. Under the laughable pretense of creator rights, corporations have lobbied to get copyright laws changed to benefit themselves, and as a result it's very hard to do things that build off our culture. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen should be only a mild example of what we could do with our cultural heritage.

    For a time, people should profit from their creations. And yes, the Siegels and Shusters of the world deserve a fair shake. But eventually it would be nice if 1928 (or later 1938) would eventually hit the public domain.


  21. kansasjin, you might rethink your perspective in terms of a more practical sense of legacy.

    the ability of an author or artist to provide--through his or her life's work--for his or her family after death.

  22. As someone who's a little bit of a continuity whore, I can honestly say I have no iterest in reading a Batman or Superman story published by Marvel or Image. Same goes for a Captain America story published by Dark Horse or Spider-Man pubished and written by where ever Rob Liefeld is working in 30 years. I'm all for S&S getting their money they deserve, but for my sanity as a comic book reader I hope all these intellecual properties stay with one publisher.

  23. I think if Marvel went after the Superman rights it might be lucrative from a $ standpoint, but generate so much negative press and ill will that it would be hardly worth it.

  24. "Superman will never become public domain because the statute on copyright is consistantly extended everytime Mickey Mouse's copyright is set to expire. Disney lobbyists will never allow that Mouse to enter public domain."

    I hate to be pessimistic, but this is also my expectation too. There is so much money at stake in extending copyright, it's hard to imagine lobbyists ever loosing.

  25. Well, judging by the comments being posted here, my opinion is definitely in the minority. Even though, I'm siding with DC, I'm not faulting the Siegels for pushing this issue, so I implore you to not lump me in with the Newsarama folks who are incurring your wrath.

    I've already explained my opinion at length in my own blog, but just as a quick summary, I see both sides as being greedy. DC wants to protect its bottomline and what it sees as its intellectual property, while the Siegels want to reclaim what they see as their intellectual property and/or get a big payday. I see nothing wrong with taking either stand.

    What makes me side with DC is the speculative and retroactive economics being assigned the property. When Siegel and Shuster sold their rights in the 30s, the character was worth $130 because that's what someone was willing to pay for it. It was not worth the millions it's worth now, and those millions should not be figuratively retroactive, i.e. we shouldn't say "well, if they had known what it would be worth today, they never would have sold." It doesn't work like that.

    Basically, intellectual property is worthless until someone buys it. Even with all the time and capital DC has invested in the character, if no one buys it or its related material, it's still worth zero.

    In other words, I don't see why the Siegels should be rewarded for a property being sold for what it was worth at the time it was sold, when it was another entity entirely that invested in the property to make it a success.

    With that said, they are certainly within their legal rights to push, and win, this issue, and good for them. I'm not going to fault them for doing so. I just don't have sympathy for them.

  26. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Legally speaking, Siegel and Shuster sold the copyrights for as long as copyrights lasted in 1938. Based on what the creators signed away, DC should have seen Action Comics #1 go into the public domain years ago.

    Now, if Siegel and Shuster had known that copyrights were going to be extended, would they have made the same $130 deal? Probably. But that's not the deal they made.

    From what I can see, DC/National got many more years out of Superman than what they initially paid for. Even if Superman went into public domain in 1960, it still would have been the best $130 that company ever spent. Even if Superman went into the public domain in 1950, National still would have made a good investment.

    So, I find it hard to weep for DC/National.


  27. Those reactions are totally repugnant, selfish and, almost across-the-board, frighteningly ignorant.

    While it isn't an exact representation of all comic book fans, it's representative of the worst type of comic book reader--and for those individuals, I wish it were likely that they'd lose "their superman comics."

    What should be one of the happiest and proudest moments in the actual history of this ridiculous medium has instead become a showcase for the worst possible aspects of it: infantile, revolting fans with a hideous case of entitlement crying over their pathetic desires and wants.


  28. Intellectual Property, last I checked, becomes public domain in 75 years, which is why it doesn't surprise me that the Siegels are pushing now. What surprises me most about the Newsarama comments is that kind of ignorance, that someone could get away with a straw man argument like "licenese fees re what cause that annoying price hike on your comic books..."

    Yes, we should give everything to corporations for free because some fans will be angry that they can't make a movie with everything we want cheaply and economically.

    If someone makes a profitable product for a company, it stands to reason that the creator should benefit it. Why? This inspires more people to create original ideas that could have the potential of a Superman or a Batman.

  29. "i really don’t know what to say. to be honest i’m not happy because i’m worried that we might lose superman forever. i know. selfish. but can’t help it. that’s just the way im feeling at the moment."

    Relax! Nobody's losing anything...except for Warners, which will lose some cash. They'll still publish Superman. There will still be Superman movies and t-shirts and action figures, only now the heirs of the men who created the property will see some benefit for it. Compared to the considerably more than billion dollars (yes, BILLION) earned by Superman over the last 70 years, the few million the Siegels and the Shusters will wind up with is small change.

    Do they deserve it? The court says they do.

    Are the families greedy? You tell me: if your spouse or father created something that earned all this money for someone else and then wound up living in poverty while the "owners" got rich on it, wouldn't you want some of the action? I remember hearing that someone asked Jerry Siegel what he had thought of IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S SUPERMAN (the Broadway musical of the 1960s) and Siegel replied he didn't know because he couldn't afford a ticket to go see it!

    Frankly, the fact that Warners/DC had to be shamed into doing anything for Siegel and Shuster in 1978 through a PR campaign is good enough reason to cheer this court decision. The DC of 1938 was run by a couple of low-class pornographers-turned-comics publishers. By all accounts, these were not nice men, whether hardened by the Depression or just scumwads to begin with. They didn't care about the "proper" thing with Bob Kane and Batman--Kane's father was a lawyer who got his (at the time underage) son a good deal. Siegel & Shuster were naive and believed the businessmen who, after 6 years of shopping their idea around, agreed to publish their strip. Given half a chance and a less than ironclad contract with Kane, they would have screwed him over just the same.

    The Siegels and Shusters saw their loved ones humiliated and made to suffer at the hands of this corporate entity. On a human level, even when Siegel was “allowed” to come back to write his creation in the 50s, he did so under the auspices of editor Mort Weisinger, a terrible human being whose stock-in-trade was browbeating and humiliating the talent. Siegel and Shuster they had to BEG Warners/DC to do the right thing in the 70s and show a little compassion for the two men on whose creation the company -- and this whole damned industry -- was built. If not for the publicity blitz in the face of the opening of the multi-million dollar Superman: The Movie, Jerry and Joe would have died in poverty.

    This is a complex issue, one that’s been playing out over 70 years. I’m guessing most people don’t think it extends beyond “mighty corporation versus little creators” or “greedy heirs versus my favorite superhero.” It’s way deeper than that; hell, the court side-stepped the deeper issue of the whole work-made-for-hire issue that guys like Wolfman and Gerber took to court. This ain’t over yet, not by a long shot…

    …But in the meantime, Superman will still be published and exploited as a licensed property, uninterrupted.

    Stop hating. And don't judge these people when you know nothing of them or their circumstances. Show them some compassion. “Truth, justice, and the American way” anybody?

  30. Of course there would have been screeds against the Sons of Liberty etc. had there been internet message boards in the 18th century...

    Heh. "OMG they dumped teh tea. CRAZY BOSTON N00BS!" ^_^

    I'm probably reading too much into things... but it strikes me that a case could be made for a kind of societal stockholm syndrome with the relationship between DC/Marvel and the fan community.

    “Truth, justice, and the American way” anybody?

    Sadly, the American Way is letting the rich stomp on the poor until they forget how to tell them to stop.

    Oh, sorry, I just saw this soapbox lying about. I'll get off it now. ^_^

  31. Menshevik- I'm totally with you. I just dropped the creation myth in there so show what we claim we believe- life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness- compared to how we express what we truly believe- the ones with the money and power need defending against the essentially powerless for some reason.

  32. I guess the whole thing doesn’t really surprise me because I keep asking myself who are the folks that reading all these crappy comics with corporate mandated storylines?

    Now I know.

    Sad very, sad. Typical selfish thinking. Time/Warner is not going to be hurt much by this at all.

    The Siegels deserve any penny they can out of the Time/Warner

  33. it hadn't occurred to me either, until i saw the crazy. my brief post on the story here:

  34. I'll go on a limb and say that many of those anti-Siegel comments come also from people who have bought the DC propaganda/rumors regarding what happened to Kon-el. There was a lot back said back when his death happened that it was because of the legal battle between DC and the Siegels and that the Siegels wouldn't allow DC to publish anything with Superboy at all. Of course, that was a lot of bullshit (Especially as Kon-el wasn't Superman when he was a boy), but maybe that's where many of the paranoid comments are coming from.

  35. Part of this may be the conservatism of many Superhero fans--better pop psychologists than myself have commented on the conservative and even fascist overtones of the superhero genre when written and read simplistically (isn't this a large part of what things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were about?).

    While the superhero genre has a lot going for it, at its base it's a "might makes right" genre. Superheroes win arguments, and fights, not because they are correct, but because they can punch harder. DC, Marvel, and other large corporations pack quite a punch, and the relationships that they develop with fans is a somewhat paternalistic one. Fans are dependent on the writers and editors, who they often know by name (I admit I cannot name a single Siegel heir) and perhaps even sight, for their fix, for "what happens next." It's not hard to see that relationship at play in places like convention panels, where fans gather to ask about upcoming plot developments and get atwitter with excitement over every bone thrown their way. Of course some will side with the people they know over the heirs of people whose work, let's be honest, many have probably never read. Others will identify with the apparent authority figures, just as they do in the stories they read.

    And in American politics, certain beliefs go together, so beliefs regarding property rights and corporate power will for some go hand in hand with the law-and-order and might-makes-right messages they see in their comics. They'll mistake the text of a contract with moral authority or even forget the spirit of copyright law. Let it be clear: Superman was not worth only $130 in 1938. It was a bad, exploitative deal even then, not just in retrospect. The millions of copies he was selling within a few issues proves this. $130 was simply all that a bunch of gang-connected suits were willing to pay a pair of artists with no recourse. They could easily have afforded to pay more. The principle is no different from large corporations today paying their CEOs obscene amounts while their employees' wages remain stagnant in the name of profitability. We depend upon the higher authority of government to protect the vulnerable from the more powerful. That Congress eventually created the opportunity for people who gave up their livelihoods in the 30s and 40s to get justice is a great blow for American ideals.

    (Of course, I also simply tend to be of the belief that corporations shouldn't have all the rights of--or often more rights than--people. A move like this, which is costly for companies, is a good thing, because when they misbehave, monetary punishments are the only punitive measures that can be taken.)

  36. Finally, the Siegels have won more than money. It means something to own your work, or even your family member's. Assuming they make it through the appeals, they've won peace of mind and the pride of ownership of something that, in a very real way, is theirs. Their husband, father, grandfather created something that means so much to so many, and to have it, to say they own it, must feel wonderful. It must make him feel closer, and it must vindicate the desire for the fame and respect and quality of life that was stolen from him, even if his creation was legally bought from him. He co-created it, so no matter what a piece of paper said, it was his, but this action does the service of aligning the legal reality with the moral and creative ones. If Jerry Siegel were my grandfather, this would make me so proud, whether there was money attached or not.

    (Sorry to post twice, but I didn't want this bit to get stuck at the bottom of a skippable anti-corporate rant. I thought that was important, but this is moreso.)

  37. Speaking not of the Siegels but in general terms, the inheritance of creators' rights by their relatives and heirs is not always a good thing. What if the author is the black sheep of the family? In German literary history there is the case of the talented Georg Büchner (1813-1837) whose fiancee after his death destroyed many of his unpublished manuscripts because she considered them "godless". And the papers left behind by Friedrich Nietzsche (who invented "superman") were notoriously edited, some say falsified, to fit the political agenda of his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche and her anti-Semite husband.

  38. kansasjin, you might rethink your perspective in terms of a more practical sense of legacy.

    the ability of an author or artist to provide--through his or her life's work--for his or her family after death.

    I never said they shouldn't get royalties or the right to be associated with the Superman name and image. That's a completely different ballgame. If anybody's got a right to earn money produced by a property, it should be the family of the creator, if the creator's not still alive.

    Official creative license isn't bread and butter, though. It's art, and I think it ought to belong to one person and one person only. I don't approve of corporate strong arming to get creators to hand over their ideas, and I'm not comfortable with DC's position even though I often enjoy reading stories about their characters. But I also just don't approve of the carte blanche assumption that a work of art is a family affair when only one person did the work. That's a slippery slope to set up.

  39. I am glad for the family...the daughter at least. (The claim by the second Mrs. Siegel that she was the model for Lois Lane has been a bit shakey.) At the same time, I can't help but feel a settlement between DC/WB and the family might have happened earlier if there had been a different lawyer involved.

    Say one that doesn't pursue these IP fights on one hand, yet has a production company he can funnel his clients properties to.

    I'm all for the creator/heirs geting paid, but the legal representation being involved here comes off like the Hollywood version of the late night lawyer who "only gets paid if we win your case."

  40. I wasn't too surprise. I hate to turn this into a Marvel/DC thing but the posters at Newsarama are mostly DC Fans. (Val, I meet your boyfriend on the train one day and had the same converstation with him.) These were the same posters who called Marvel evil for not giving Jack Kibry any of the rights their characters.

  41. Anonymous6:41 PM

    The irony of this ruling is that the extension of the copyright period ("The Sonny Bono Memorial") helped the Siegels in reclaiming their share of the copyright, and will allow the Shuster estate to do the same in a few years.

    An issue or story may enter the public domain (as have many animated cartoons), but the trademark exists as long as the holder defends it.

    As for a copyright ending with the death of the holder, what's to keep someone from killing a genius under the rationalization of the Greater Good?

  42. Can someone explain to me how this ruling changes anything? Like, now DC has to credit S&S and probably give 'em a superficial cut of the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS dollars right? Annnnnd...?

    I just not really sure why this is a big deal. Some relatives of the guys who invented Superman get some money off a massive multimedia conglomerate IN NO WAY really affecting their bottom line significantly. Superman, no matter who lays claim to him, will NEVER DIE.

    If someone can compellingly explain to me how this in any way threatens some kind of legacy, I'm totally in on the bitching. Otherwise, who gives a shit?

  43. I know I'm in the minority here but...

    I have to say, while I have lots of sympathy for the creators of the original comics, I have zero for their ancestors. And really, great-grandchildren or maybe grandchildren is getting into ancestor territory rather than very close family. I'm doubtful that very many of these current day Siegels had even met Superman's creators. Giving money to these people will never help the Siegels who were wronged, it will only line the pockets of their ancestors who have never contributed anything creatively to the Superman franchise. If my great grandfather had say, invented Betty Boop, I wouldn't feel entitled to a piece of every handbag and t-shirt she's printed on.

  44. I have to say, the reaction doesn't surprise me. Fans, in any realms, are a "Me First" entity. Remember the backlash that Lars Ulrich received (and still receives) from the fans when he led the fight of artists against online sites like Napster? It wasn't that they were against the rights of the creator, but they were against how those rights might impact them. And that's what we're seeing, is people concerned not so much as the impact of the court decision on creator/s' rights, but how that decision will impact them.

  45. I'm doubtful that very many of these current day Siegels had even met Superman's creators.

    Oh for crying out loud... the suit is being carried out by Siegel's wife of five decades and his daughter. Both family members lived through a hand-to-mouth existence for the better part of three decades and watched as their husband/father had to take menial jobs while DC grew an empire out of Superman. I think they have a legitimate claim. It's not like they're great-great-grandchildren or anything.

    Which highlights what bothers me so much about the response to this case: no one wants to actually read about the most basic facts of this case. It's easier to just complain.