Comic Book Brain

Copyright Wars of the Superheroes

Last Update January 16, 2022

News stories about the battle over ownership of the lucrative comic book "intellectual properties" of the 21st century.

Milton Bradley "work for hire" case and the Supreme Court

Case could have big impact on Comic Book "work for hire" cases involving slate of Marvel properties


If the Supreme Court takes up the case, it will undoubtedly impact Marvel superheroes too because Disney’s primary argument to resist copyright termination is that freelanced contributions like Dr. Strange, Black Widow and Loki were once done at Marvel’s instance and expense. It matters not, as the studio sees it, that Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Don Heck and others made creative choices and often did so with financial risk, getting paid only upon acceptance. Disney feels confident in its legal position thanks to some court success a decade ago in the Jack Kirby copyright termination fight — but that confidence gets a little shaky with respect to the Supreme Court. A decade ago, when Kirby’s heirs filed a very similar petition as Markham’s to the high court, Disney forked over tens of millions of dollars to settle the case rather than risk a reversal.

 On Dec. 15, Larry Lieber (Stan Lee’s brother and a comic artist too) plus the estates of Ditko, Colan, Heck and Don Rico filed an amicus brief in support of Markham (read here). That’s not surprising, given how justices playing the Game of Life could end up conferring them an enormous advantage in their own cases.

Story at Hollywood Reporter

Related: Disney vs the Jack Kirby Estate

Related: The Superman Copyright Legal Case

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American Comic Book Chronicles: 1965-69 Hardcover from TwoMorrowsAMAZON

Overstreet Price Guide 2022-2023

Overstreet Price Guide 2022-2023

Amazing Spider-Man by Ditko and Lee from Penguin CLassics

Amazing Spider-Man by Ditko and Lee from Penguin Classics

Original page May 16, 2021 | updated September 2021