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DC Loses Superman's Krypton Origins

Federal court rules for Superman's co-creator, Siegel

 

 

It seems that DC Comics is gradually coming increasingly close to losing the rights to their biggest heavy hitter and the leader of the DCU, Superman. According to a report by Variety, Federal court Judge Stephen Larson ruled on Wednesday, August 12th that the character's co-creator, Jerry Siegel "successfully recaptured" some of the rights to Superman's early years.

Jerry Siegel, has [acquired] rights to additional works, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic-strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic-books.
This means the Siegels -- repped by Marc Toberoff of Toberoff & Associates -- now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.


 In 2008, the same court order ruled on summary judgment that the Siegels had successfully recaptured (as of 1999) Siegel's copyright in Action Comics No. 1, giving them rights to the Superman character, including his costume, his alter-ego as reporter Clark Kent, the feisty reporter Lois Lane, their jobs at the Daily Planet newspaper working for a gruff editor, and the love triangle among Clark/Superman and Lois.

 
 
The case was determined based on the ruling that when the character and his story were bought, that it did not fall under the 1976 "works-made-for-hire" portion of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). The code distinctly states that the work of the creator is protected; and that "when the work is written down or otherwise set into tangible form, the copyright immediately becomes the property of the author that created it....[and] only the author or those deriving their rights from the author can rightfully claim copyright" ( Copyright.gov).

What this means is that since DC did not commission the origin story of Superman and Siegel was not hired by DC or commissioned when the concept for Superman was created; that it does not fall within the scope of "works-made-for-hire," and therefore the rights of the character can be returned to the creator.

The issue behind this case sadly has less to do with the ownership of the character, and more to do with how much Warner Brothers and DC Comics owes Shuster and Siegel for the use of the elements of the character's origin story over the years. By 2013, Schuster and Siegel combined will completely hold the rights to Action Comics No. 1, giving them the ability to move projects (i.e. motion picture, television program) associated with the character to another studio.

It seems that in the end, the Man of Steel is not invincible after-all; and that sadly, the incredibly iconic character may one day no longer be a staple in DC Comics continuity. That is, unless, they wish to completely change Superman's origin history. Does this story happen to have anything to do with the fact that the re-telling of the Superman origins tale is set for release this September? What are your thoughts on the future of Superman? How do you think this will effect the DC Universe?
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Posted by AirDave817

Maybe this will eventually lead to a single, unified concept of Superman across the media. Not the various iterations from comics to films and animation that we have seen because DC and Warners can't get together on a single, consistent presentation. I once saw where Dan Didio was quoted as saying that DC produces the comics and they don't worry about how the character(s) show up in other media. I was very disappointed by that attitude.

Posted by MysterioMaximus

I don’t even like Superman much…but I DC Universe without Superman, ideally the last son of Krypton, is just flat-out wrong. That would be a rape to cultural history. This character surpasses pop culture and enters modern mythology. They can’t do this…or fans will revolt.

Pssh! Money and greed destroys everything.    

Posted by DH69

lmao that  sucks, never been a fan of super man but that is pretty sad
Posted by Jotham

Just curious, does the fact that the current Superman is not technically the original change anything?

Posted by RichL

Not sure that controlling 'depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash'  amounts to controlling DC's right to use these elements.
 
I wonder though: what are the plans of the Siegel's heirs with the parts of Superman that they control? Auction them off to another company so that some half-baked version can appear there? The amount of tip-toeing that that company would have to do in order to not infringe on anything that DC still owned would be enormous. 
 
I still think all of this will eventually simply be settled for an undisclosed sum.

Anyway, It's been a while since my law degree, and that was in the UK not the US - but no matter what I believe the bigger issue to be the potential reversion of Superman to the public domain in 2012.

Posted by Jotham
@Babs: I don't think it'll change anything. Even if they get complete rights to Superman, they'll just license him to DC.
Posted by No_Name_
@RichL said:
but no matter what I believe the bigger issue to be the potential reversion of Superman to the public domain in 2012. "
I completely agree.
Posted by G'bandit

Ooooh yeah, I can see it now!

C'mon Marvel play a fast one!
Posted by Editman

This is just wow.

Posted by Jotham

Even if the comic goes into the public domain, he's still a trademark. I think there are some Superman cartoons in the public domain but you still can't use the character itself.

Posted by Marshal Victory

its great to see the original creators get their share of the pie.more importantly dc got the rights to captian marvel based on similarites in the characters . wonder how this may afect their hold on that character as well the boy scout? 
 
would dc change his origin in a recton?in a heart beat.will they go outa their way so the creators dont get their share?odds are.Is marvel haveing buyers remorse over marvel man now? probly.if we just waited a bit longer coulda got the boy scout. 
 
wondeful news.
Posted by EisforExtinction

I don't even understand any of this. So Superman isn't from Krypton anymore if the Siegel estate wants to be jerks? Everybody sucks.

Posted by mattydeNero
@RichL:  I agree.  I think that eventually it will be settled with money.  After all, that's what this is all about anyway, right? 
 
I've collected Superman since I was 6.  The final chapter in the "Legends" story arc was my very first comic.  I love John Byrne's Superman.  Anyway, this whole thing is kind of nuts.  The fact that Superman would be a "free-agent" is, to me, unthinkable.  "Secret Origins" is about to be released and this new development could have some people asking, 'what's the point?'  That's not good for DC.  I personally am stoked, but that's because I still believe Superman is the greatest hero, ever.  Hopefully this will be squashed in the next few years.
Posted by Chocolate Lantern
@MysterioMaximus said:

"Pssh! Money and greed destroys everything."

I can agree to that statement to a certain point, but in this case it makes sense. If you created something and then never got paid for it you would be pretty pissed off too and would want to be paid for it.  
 
@Jotham said:

" @Babs: I don't think it'll change anything. Even if they get complete rights to Superman, they'll just license him to DC. "

I Agree with you. I think Siegel and DC/Warner Bros. will make a deal where Siegel gets paid a percentage and all rights involving Superman will be signed over to DC/Warner Bros.
Posted by goldenkey

He's to big for D.C. to lose.  Somehow he isn't goning anywhere.  It would be like taking Jesus out of the Bible.

Posted by danhimself

all this means right now is that DC can't show his origin for awhile......there's absolutely no way that DC/WB won't fork over the cash to keep Superman

Posted by Ectoplasmic

Changes in the rights to this intellectual property doesn't necessarily mean big changes for the Man of Steel.  

Warner Bros could play ball if they wanted to. It could still be very lucrative for them if they want to broker a deal with Siegel and his family. 
 
But if I'm going to be realistic I doubt Warner Bros will want to deal with the hassle of having to deal with someone and will just assert ownership in a different way. I imagine DC anticipated this win, hence the new origin story they plan on running in September.  
 
It's just irritating. 
It gets to a point that some characters become some large, so iconic, that for someone to claim ownership and delegate what happens to that character seems wrong.

Posted by Scarecrow4

They Sold Superman to DC money changed hands how are we still having a legal battle on this!  What DC and Warner Bro's should do Is kill superman drop him out of all them comics remove him completely!.  The only reason Superman made all that money and is a huge success is because WB got behind him and made him the flagship of there comic company and the cornerstone of the comic universe!  They made him the all American hero!  Siegel great job making a character but you SOLD HIM!  I don't care how much you got for the sale...If it had just been left with Siegel and not purchased by DC none of us would be reading comics it's not like a bunch of kids could have made that comic huge and kept up with the demand of the comic industry...Wait hey maybe they should get the rights to Marvel comics too since superman was the first Superhero thus everything marvel has done should also go to Siegel since they are all superheros!  Someone please stop the maddness!  

Posted by Nova`Prime`

I haven't heard anything about the Schusters or the Siegels wanting to take Superman away from DC, it sounds more like they want to get paid for what their grand fathers created. And I don't really blame though, although the copyright laws are really annoying. Superman would have been in public domain years ago, but because the government kept changing the copyright laws. Mostly so there wouldn't be imitation Mickey Mouses running around, yes its all Disney's fault :) But what's so wrong with another company printing and telling different Superman stories. Say a smaller company like Dynamite, it wouldn't mean the end of the world. Afterall maybe another company could tell better stories? Or at the least give a new look to an old favorite. Also maybe once the Schusters and Siegels take over there will finally be another good Superman movie. Hasn't been one since Superman 2, that's way to long, especially now with alot of good comic movies flooding the market.

Posted by The_Martian

I think DC Comics are in trouble. They have some really great characters, but if they lost Superman, it would destroy...well everything for them. Superman is the DC Universe.

Posted by ARMIV

I thought there weren't going to be any court ruling until 2011 at least!
But man,so his origins aren't property of DC any more?
WB and DC need to step up their game and get off of Batman already.

Posted by Tmul501
@Nobody said:
" I think DC Comics are in trouble. They have some really great characters, but if they lost Superman, it would destroy...well everything for them. Superman is the DC Universe. "
I kind of have to agree. Not only in terms of sales, but past stories and current stories would suffer as well. This kind of stuff is really ridiculous to me. All this fuss over money. Couldn't DC or Warner Bros. or whoever have made a deal with the family instead of having let it get this far?
Posted by MysterioMaximus
@Chocolate Lantern said:
" @MysterioMaximus said:

"Pssh! Money and greed destroys everything."

I can agree to that statement to a certain point, but in this case it makes sense. If you created something and then never got paid for it you would be pretty pissed off too and would want to be paid for it.   
 

Of course, but I wouldn’t set out to destroy such an iconic characters history just for my compensation. There are ways of going about this that don’t involved destroying Superman’s (arguably necessary) connection to DC.

Posted by reaper2923

Hmm that's a kick in the nuts for Dc

Posted by The_Martian
@Tmul501 said:
" @Nobody said:
" I think DC Comics are in trouble. They have some really great characters, but if they lost Superman, it would destroy...well everything for them. Superman is the DC Universe. "
I kind of have to agree. Not only in terms of sales, but past stories and current stories would suffer as well. This kind of stuff is really ridiculous to me. All this fuss over money. Couldn't DC or Warner Bros. or whoever have made a deal with the family instead of having let it get this far? "
Exactly, I mean so many characters in the DC Universe are connected due to a mutual friend in Superman. And Superman is a power player in almost every giant story arc. And to have him just erase would kill the universe.
Posted by TheBug

This is frightening.
Posted by _brandon

DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here.
Posted by The Hottness

DAMN IT!!!!!! here we go... 
 
 

 
 
 
SUPERMAN: BRAND NEW DAY (take that Marvel!)
Posted by King Quisling

Oh wow, this is epic. 

Posted by Dreadmaster

This made my heart ache from the pain of Superman actually leaving DC. :-(

Edited by No_Name_
@_brandon said:

" DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here. "

Actually, DC did pay for it.
 
Schuster and Siegel sold the rights of their Superman back in 1938 for $130. Additionally, since the 1940's both creators have been paid $75,000 per year which granted, is a fraction of the money that Superman is worth in total, but look at what DC has done with his character? He has evolved. The Superman these two guys created is not the Superman we know today. 
 
The only reason they had a case was because the idea was created by them before they were under contract with DC.
Posted by Ryonslaught
@G'bandit said:
"Ooooh yeah, I can see it now!
C'mon Marvel play a fast one!
"

lol sorry but I just think this pic is great! lol hilarious really!
Posted by ele3000

If DC loses Superman, they should either have Kon-El to be his successor or Get a new character to replace him. I'm just sayin.
Posted by _brandon
@Babs said:
"@_brandon said:

" DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here. "

Actually, DC did pay for it.
 
Schuster and Siegel sold the rights of their Superman back in 1938 for $130. Additionally, since the 1940's both creators have been paid $75,000 per year which granted, is a fraction of the money that Superman is worth in total, but look at what DC has done ith his character? He has evolved. The Superman these two guys created is not the Superman we know today.   The only reason they had a case was because the idea was created by them before they were under contract with DC. "

so your last line there kind of says what i said - they apparently didnt pay for it (the origin idea) because the work was done outside of contract. whether it was an element, a portion or a fraction, etc. DC used something that they never owned or truly compensated for. if i dont have that correct then i'm just not getting it fully here. 
 
it's not about what they were paid per year, etc. the fact remains they used something they should not have. as much as i'd hate to see something bad happen as a result of this, DC should have settled this a LONG time ago.
Posted by DEGRAAF

Dc paid for it but they honly have it for 75 years and they only paid for superman, not everything else. 
 
i would like to see superman stay but if i was the seigels, DC has put up a huge fight and i would want to see them go down, so i would refuse to sell the rights back to DC, I would get as much money from them as a ican and than sell rights over to MARVEL for the next 75 years. 
 
I think they wuold make the price to high for DC to dish out. WB is big but consider how big an arm and a leg would be for them. the seigels would probably set for the rest of their lives

Edited by No_Name_
@_brandon said:

" @Babs said:

"@_brandon said:

" DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here. "

Actually, DC did pay for it.
 
Schuster and Siegel sold the rights of their Superman back in 1938 for $130. Additionally, since the 1940's both creators have been paid $75,000 per year which granted, is a fraction of the money that Superman is worth in total, but look at what DC has done ith his character? He has evolved. The Superman these two guys created is not the Superman we know today.   The only reason they had a case was because the idea was created by them before they were under contract with DC. "
so your last line there kind of says what i said - they apparently didnt pay for it (the origin idea) because the work was done outside of contract. whether it was an element, a portion or a fraction, etc. DC used something that they never owned or truly compensated for. if i dont have that correct then i'm just not getting it fully here.  it's not about what they were paid per year, etc. the fact remains they used something they should not have. as much as i'd hate to see something bad happen as a result of this, DC should have settled this a LONG time ago. "
Please stop twisting my words. They SOLD THE ORIGINAL IDEA TO DC FOR 130 BUCKS. When you SELL something to someone, then that which WAS yours belongs to the BUYER. When I go to a store and buy a t-shirt, I OWN IT; the company that made it and sold it TO ME no longer owns the rights to my t-shirt that I am wearing. When DC bought the character's rights (that includes the origins) they were able to use it as they pleased. Am I not making sense?
Posted by TheRichestManinTown

The court is making DC and Warner submit to a copyright law retroactively, which is unconstituational, especially if that law is passed fourty five years in the future from when the rights over the character were decided.  

Posted by ninjadude853

i rarely buy DC, and when i do its always either green lantern or batman, but even i know that this will really **** up the DC universe, supermans pretty much at the center of the whole thing, and it sounds he'll be gone in the next few years, 
 
but what i don't get is that not only did the creators sell the rights to superman to DC in the 40s, but both of them are dead, so is this their kids or something?

Posted by DEGRAAF
@Babs said:
" @_brandon said:
" @Babs said:
"@_brandon said:

" DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here. "

Actually, DC did pay for it.
 
Schuster and Siegel sold the rights of their Superman back in 1938 for $130. Additionally, since the 1940's both creators have been paid $75,000 per year which granted, is a fraction of the money that Superman is worth in total, but look at what DC has done ith his character? He has evolved. The Superman these two guys created is not the Superman we know today.   The only reason they had a case was because the idea was created by them before they were under contract with DC. "
so your last line there kind of says what i said - they apparently didnt pay for it (the origin idea) because the work was done outside of contract. whether it was an element, a portion or a fraction, etc. DC used something that they never owned or truly compensated for. if i dont have that correct then i'm just not getting it fully here.  it's not about what they were paid per year, etc. the fact remains they used something they should not have. as much as i'd hate to see something bad happen as a result of this, DC should have settled this a LONG time ago. "
Please stop twisting my words. They SOLD THE ORIGINAL IDEA TO DC FOR 130 BUCKS. When you SELL something to someone, you are allowing the other person to use it. When I go to a store and buy a t-shirt, I OWN IT. When DC bought the character's rights (that includes the origins) they were able to use it as they pleased. Am I not making sense? "

its not like buying a shirt. they get to own it for 75 years than it gets returned
Posted by _brandon
@Babs said:
"@_brandon said:

" @Babs said:

"@_brandon said:

" DC has spent 7 decades getting fat off of something that apparently didnt own or pay for. That's the real frightening thing here. "

Actually, DC did pay for it.
 
Schuster and Siegel sold the rights of their Superman back in 1938 for $130. Additionally, since the 1940's both creators have been paid $75,000 per year which granted, is a fraction of the money that Superman is worth in total, but look at what DC has done ith his character? He has evolved. The Superman these two guys created is not the Superman we know today.   The only reason they had a case was because the idea was created by them before they were under contract with DC. "
so your last line there kind of says what i said - they apparently didnt pay for it (the origin idea) because the work was done outside of contract. whether it was an element, a portion or a fraction, etc. DC used something that they never owned or truly compensated for. if i dont have that correct then i'm just not getting it fully here.  it's not about what they were paid per year, etc. the fact remains they used something they should not have. as much as i'd hate to see something bad happen as a result of this, DC should have settled this a LONG time ago. "
Please stop twisting my words. They SOLD THE ORIGINAL IDEA TO DC FOR 130 BUCKS. When you SELL something to someone, then that which WAS yours belongs to the BUYER. When I go to a store and buy a t-shirt, I OWN IT. When DC bought the character's rights (that includes the origins) they were able to use it as they pleased. Am I not making sense? "
i'm just trying to understand it all. i'm not intentionally twisting or trying to piss anyone off. 

so how did they rule against? it seems kind of cut and dry when you, like you said, sell the whole thing in one shot. 
 
maybe the court just didnt like the origin story and they wanted it removed from superman's lore.
Posted by Suigetsu
@Ryonslaught: 
Yeah! Imagine Superman in the Marvel Univers?!
Marvel gotta play it fast and right! Buy Superman's rights for the comic etc..! SRSLY! THIS COULD BE Freakin Awesome!
And give him the godfall costume.
 
The only DC stuff I have ever bought is the Superman:Godfall TPB wich is the most badass and awesome comic of all times IMO. And I am not even a Superman Fan xD
Posted by KCsuperman09

man oh no

Posted by The Crimson Nutcase

Ah man if they lose him that will be a sad day in comic history....maybe

Posted by KCsuperman09

if dc lose superman who will be the face of dc. batman's dead so captain marvel??

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

I can understand the side of the families in this, they got pretty much screwed out of their creation and they want some compensation, on the other side i honestly could never imagine a DC universe without Superman, he's as essential to them as ink and paper. I  don't think i ever liked Superman, but I have deep respect for the character and would be distraught if he was sudddenly removed or even retconned out DC. it would just be devastating
Posted by Satyrquaze

Good for Shuster and Siegel! DC basically stole Superman from them the family and have made billions off their creation. The family has full rights to any monetary gains.
Posted by The_Martian
@Emperor Gonzo Noir said:
" I can understand the side of the families in this, they got pretty much screwed out of their creation and they want some compensation, on the other side i honestly could never imagine a DC universe without Superman, he's as essential to them as ink and paper. I  don't think i ever liked Superman, but I have deep respect for the character and would be distraught if he was sudddenly removed or even retconned out DC. it would just be devastating "
How did they get screwed? Because they made a bad deal and DC turn their creation into gold, and now they want it back.
Posted by NightFang

Will this sucks @$$!!!!

Posted by Aronmorales

So Superman's gone?

Posted by Nelsonalot

This just shows the disgusting greed of some people

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