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Warner Brothers Wins Court Ruling In Rights To Superman Case

Earlier today a Federal Court Judge ruled in favor of Warner Brothers in the case.

Over the course of the last several years the rights to Superman's character had come into question. Things had gotten heated more recently in the last two years when Attorney Marc Toberoff, representative to both the Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster estates took Warner Brothers to court over the rights to the character. Toberoff claimed that the rights to the character should revert back to the Estates.

Now it seems there have been some big developments in the case. Earlier today a Federal Judge in California issued a summary judgement on behalf of Warner Brothers. The ruling determined whether an agreement made in 1992 between Jean Peavy (former Joe Shuster estate representative) and DC Comics "precludes the estate's attempt to terminate the copyright grant." According to the Judge;

…The 1992 Agreement, which represented the Shuster heirs’ opportunity to renegotiate the prior grants of Joe Shuster’s copyrights, superseded and replaced all prior grants of the Superman copyrights. The 1992 Agreement thus represents the parties’ operative agreement and, as a post-1978 grant, it is not subject to termination.

When Shuster died in 1992, Jean Peavy (his sister, and former representative to his Estate) struck a deal with DC Comics after "asking the company to pay all of her brother's final debts and expenses." DC in turn, agreed and cited that it would be the "last and final deal that (Shuster would have) with DC, and would fully resolve any past, present or future claims against DC Comics."

So, in a nutshell, DC and Warner Brothers can now rest easy knowing that they are one step closer to owning the rights to Superman. What do you think of the summary verdict? For those interested, you can read the full court ruling here.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

84 Comments
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Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7

Glad that a verdict was finally reached. Never really thought DC would lose the rights, though.

Posted by Owen_Porter

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

Moderator
Posted by Reignmaker

Though I'm sure the Siegel and Shuster families have their reasons (cha-ching), it's nice to know Superman isn't going anywhere. Having him pulled from the DC Universe would be devastating.

Posted by ComicMan24

@Gambler said:

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

This.

Posted by TheCrowbar

@Gambler said:

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

Where's your avatar from?

Posted by The_Tree

I'm so happy/excited about this! Superman belongs at DC and nowhere else.

Now I must celebrate.

Posted by Dernman
@ComicMan24 said:

@Gambler said:

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

This.

yup
Posted by Owen_Porter

@TheCrowbar said:

@Gambler said:

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

Where's your avatar from?

Batman #13

Moderator
Posted by Kovak

Hmm...There was an issue with rights to Superman?

Posted by TitanTempest

Do we still have to worry about the Siegel Estate?? I just wrote a ComicVine article about losing the rights to Superman, and Im just wondering

Posted by noj

You forgot to mention that not only did DC pay off al Schuesters debts as part of the 1992 deal apparently his sister negotiated it so that DC would have to pay her 25 grand a year for the rest of her life.

Im just SERIOUSLY glad all this nonsense is over and Superman is staying where he belongs.

Posted by longbowhunter

DC has done some people dirty in the past and the very recent past. However I feel the same about this as I do the Alan Moore/Watchmen debacle. It was a crappy deal, but it was just that..a deal. I won't pretend to know all the detail of this or any other case concerning character rights. But that is my opinion.

Online
Posted by Mbecks14

While I'm glad Superman isn't going anywhere, was the family well compensated? I am a little confused, as it's 2am and I'm trying to read legal jargon. I'd hate to see the family of the creators of Superman mistreated by the company their legacy created. Maybe I'll try to understand after some sleep

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

This is actually good news despite the fact that I no doubt will always see the deal that Shuster and Siegel as having taken in as kids with that company as being a sour one to begin with. Sure, they were screwed royally but over the years DC has more than made up for it. Good for DC and Time-Warner/Warner Bros. to be that closer to having the rights to the Man of Steel. Which makes me come to my next statement...DC...you can revert the DCU back to the pre-Flashpoint reality now! Chop chop...

Posted by sethysquare

hell yeah. Go DC!!!!Us Super fans will support you all the way.

Posted by NightFang

@Gambler said:

A World in which Superman's home wasnt the DCU would feel out of balance

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by VaizD

Can we give him back his underwear now?

Edited by PepeLepw55

NOW can we get our old Superman back....??? At the very least bring back the red shorts and yellow belt. HATE the New 52 version.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

So, Shuster's sister had made a deal in '92 with DC that they would settle all of Shuster's debts in return of dropping any claims against them. You have to wonder how huge his debts and final expenses were to warrant such a deal. Imagine if Stan Lee passed away, and Marvel were to say that they'd only help in paying for his final expenses, code name for burial costs, if his estate signed over all rights and claims to the characters he created. Sounds kind of cold hearted.

Not sure how I feel about this. It's hard to be very sympathetic since this is a matter of the estates, which I presume are his family members; and not the actual creators having this fight. However, a DC without being able to use Superman in their comics probably would have been devastating. Even if Batman is far more popular.

You have publishers profiting off the creations of artists, and they have little to no control over their own creations. Superman is partly what made DC, but you couldn't really say they couldn't have done it without that character. Now, a Marvel Comics without the creations of Stan Lee. Yikes.

Posted by TheCrowbar

@FoxxFireArt said:

So, Shuster's sister had made a deal in '92 with DC that they would settle all of Shuster's debts in return of dropping any claims against them. You have to wonder how huge his debts and final expenses were to warrant such a deal. Imagine if Stan Lee passed away, and Marvel were to say that they'd only help in paying for his final expenses, code name for burial costs, if his estate signed over all rights and claims to the characters he created. Sounds kind of cold hearted.

Not sure how I feel about this. It's hard to be very sympathetic since this is a matter of the estates, which I presume are his family members; and not the actual creators having this fight. However, a DC without being able to use Superman in their comics probably would have been devastating. Even if Batman is far more popular.

You have publishers profiting off the creations of artists, and they have little to no control over their own creations. Superman is partly what made DC, but you couldn't really say they couldn't have done it without that character. Now, a Marvel Comics without the creations of Stan Lee. Yikes.

If you read the Judges ruling you'll see they also paid her 4 million dollars over her time owning the rights and paid for Shuster's medical expenses.

Posted by ssejllenrad

All I wanna see is Toberoff's face amidst all these... Nyahahahaha!

Posted by Zeeguy91
@PepeLepw55: Why? Besides Justice League where he's a little more battle-ready than before, in his own title, he acts pretty much like he always has. Or at least what I remember him as. Perez's New 52 run wasn't bad because of his characterization. It was bad because the story was boring as hell (sorry George). 
 
Are you just complaining about the costume design, because I think that him in armor is better than him in what was essentially a blue leatard with underwear stapled on top.
Posted by ssejllenrad

@Zeeguy91 said:

@PepeLepw55: Why? Besides Justice League where he's a little more battle-ready than before, in his own title, he acts pretty much like he always has. Or at least what I remember him as. Perez's New 52 run wasn't bad because of his characterization. It was bad because the story was boring as hell (sorry George). Are you just complaining about the costume design, because I think that him in armor is better than him in what was essentially a blue leatard with underwear stapled on top.

Not to mention it will be more damaging to DC if they reverted back to pre-flashpoint after having invested in this retcon. It will confuse the fans and sales would be dropping. And I'm pretty sure they'll come off as having no balls if they decided not to continue with the new timeline.

Posted by turoksonofstone

"So, in a nutshell, DC and Warner Brothers can now rest easy knowing that they are one step closer to owning the rights to Superman. What do you think of the summary verdict? For those interested, you can read the full court ruling here."

It ain't over yet. This is a big loss for the Shuster's but the Siegel Heirs are doing a wee bit better, though this could ultimately pave the way for a DC victory. Some triple cross double dealing going on in this case on ALL sides and the actual Heirs are the only ones who are approaching it with sincerity. I expect an appeal on this ruling and Toberoff is the biggest loser in this round, more so than the Shuster Heirs. DC now has 1/2 of what they need to win. This will be very ugly if the other Heirs win big in the next round..which is a possibility.

Edited by The Stegman
Take THAT you greedy heirs !
Posted by cbishop

@turoksonofstone said:

"So, in a nutshell, DC and Warner Brothers can now rest easy knowing that they are one step closer to owning the rights to Superman. What do you think of the summary verdict? For those interested, you can read the full court ruling here."

It ain't over yet. This is a big loss for the Shuster's but the Siegel Heirs are doing a wee bit better, though this could ultimately pave the way for a DC victory. Some triple cross double dealing going on in this case on ALL sides and the actual Heirs are the only ones who are approaching it with sincerity. I expect an appeal on this ruling and Toberoff is the biggest loser in this round, more so than the Shuster Heirs. DC now has 1/2 of what they need to win. This will be very ugly if the other Heirs win big in the next round..which is a possibility.

I don't know. This has never made a lot of sense to me. It might be a crappy deal by today's standards, but these guys went in knowing they were working a work-for-hire contract, and that they were selling their creation. It was a good deal at the time. Unless there have been some newer deals superseding that original contract, I don't see why DC should lose this at all.

Now, does that mean DC couldn't stand (and even afford) to be more magnanimous to the families? Nope. They surely could. A little financial goodwill towards all of the Golden Age creators is somewhat called for, and ultimately, TW/AOL wouldn't even feel it. (Same with Disney and Marvel)

Posted by turoksonofstone

@cbishop said:

@turoksonofstone said:

"So, in a nutshell, DC and Warner Brothers can now rest easy knowing that they are one step closer to owning the rights to Superman. What do you think of the summary verdict? For those interested, you can read the full court ruling here."

It ain't over yet. This is a big loss for the Shuster's but the Siegel Heirs are doing a wee bit better, though this could ultimately pave the way for a DC victory. Some triple cross double dealing going on in this case on ALL sides and the actual Heirs are the only ones who are approaching it with sincerity. I expect an appeal on this ruling and Toberoff is the biggest loser in this round, more so than the Shuster Heirs. DC now has 1/2 of what they need to win. This will be very ugly if the other Heirs win big in the next round..which is a possibility.

I don't know. This has never made a lot of sense to me. It might be a crappy deal by today's standards, but these guys went in knowing they were working a work-for-hire contract, and that they were selling their creation. It was a good deal at the time. Unless there have been some newer deals superseding that original contract, I don't see why DC should lose this at all.

Now, does that mean DC couldn't stand (and even afford) to be more magnanimous to the families? Nope. They surely could. A little financial goodwill towards all of the Golden Age creators is somewhat called for, and ultimately, TW/AOL wouldn't even feel it. (Same with Disney and Marvel)

Sad fact is most of them are already dead. With the exception of Bob Kane and Stan Lee I can think of very few who ever saw any large reward for their contributions to the medium. Jack Kirby is a great example of this creating million dollar concepts and struggling to make ends meet for his troubles, pretty much the story for most creators until the 1980's when they began to get a bit better treatment and strike out on their own a bit more.

Posted by ALFMutant

Superman wins.

Posted by kagato

Good to hear, the legal battle between the estates and DC has been getting uglier by the day, yes the original creaters got duped into selling their creation for far less money than they should have got but the Superman we have today bares very little resemblance to the man they created all those years ago. DC have made quite large contributions to both families over the years, later than they should have obviuosly but at this point they are more than even. Im not one to normally root for the corporations but i really hope DC win this sooner rather than later.

Posted by cameron83

@The_Tree said:

I'm so happy/excited about this! Superman belongs at DC and nowhere else.

Now I must celebrate.

Posted by lifeboy
Thanks babs for sticking with this story.
Edited by Green ankh

Im happy. DC never said "they" created Superman and still Acknowledges Shuster.

Posted by Black_Claw

Pretty much saw this coming. DC losing superman is like Disney losing Mickey Mouse.

@PepeLepw55 said:

NOW can we get our old Superman back....??? At the very least bring back the red shorts and yellow belt. HATE the New 52 version.

Why? I always thought the underwear looked ridiculous. But that's just me.

Posted by Superdork

@VaizD said:

Can we give him back his underwear now?

No. N. O.

Posted by whiteknight67

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster will always been know as the creators of Superman. Deals were made people got paid alot of $$$$ over the years.

Posted by Eyz

@Black_Claw said:

Pretty much saw this coming. DC losing superman is like Disney losing Mickey Mouse.

@PepeLepw55 said:

NOW can we get our old Superman back....??? At the very least bring back the red shorts and yellow belt. HATE the New 52 version.

Why? I always thought the underwear looked ridiculous. But that's just me.

Or at least a better designed costume. It currently looks like an awful strangely looking blue pajamas. The yellow belt and/or red shorts broke up the design a little, it looked more well thought. If it was up to me, to keep it modern I'd probably wouldn't bring the old red shorts exactly (mix them in the design of the suit...? had some details to the pants?) but at least had a yellow belt of some kind.

Posted by KRYPTON

Sometimes people can be idiots. It's a character for crying out loud, just leave him in the hands of the comic book company (DC comics).

Posted by Lurkero

So the sister struck a deal with DC and the new heirs to the estate ignored that deal because...they wanted a better one?

I understand that businesses can be greedy but it seems like DC is not doing that here. DC wanted to be done with the Superman debate and they convinced the estate to make a final deal. It would be annoying for DC to continuously ask permission to use one of its core characters.

@The Stegman said:

Take THAT you greedy airs!

For the future, its 'heirs'

Posted by cloudzackvincent

@Black_Claw said:

Pretty much saw this coming. DC losing superman is like Disney losing Mickey Mouse.

@PepeLepw55 said:

NOW can we get our old Superman back....??? At the very least bring back the red shorts and yellow belt. HATE the New 52 version.

Why? I always thought the underwear looked ridiculous. But that's just me.

its not just u... they do look ridiculous in this day and age

Posted by The Stegman

@Lurkero:

@The Stegman said:

Take THAT you greedy airs!

For the future, its 'heirs'

I literally reread my post three times after writing it thinking for some reason it didn't look right, know I know why >.<

Posted by DEGRAAF

This is very interesting but it seems pretty clear cut. After reading that from the '92 case it seems like the judge had enough evidence that this didnt need to go back to trial.

Sounds like the Seigels still have an opportunity but there material to be own is getting smaller and smaller. At this point they should just be grasping at any important material they can claim. We all know that most of it has already been set and will just be ignored from here on out or be the material that "yeah its still there but we see no reason to go back and retell it"

Posted by Lvenger

Although Siegel and Shuster weren't paid the royalties they deserved, the fact is that the Superman we know today bears little resemblance to the original GA Superman. And besides if the heirs had won the legal battle, Dc would crumble and the comic book industry would follow.

Posted by DEGRAAF

@Eyz: how about any of these?

Posted by mewmdude77

It's good that DC still owns Superman, but imagine how funny it would be if DC lost the rights to superman, and then the rights were sold to Marvel! That would be hilarious

Posted by Iridium

Good to hear. Maybe now, without the threat of the lawsuit hanging over their heads, DC can get away from this ridiculous Superman costume and return him to how it should look.

Edited by DerfelMacklin

This is great news for Superman fans. For years I've suspected a large part of DC marginalizing Superman (in both comics and adaptations) had to do with Shuster lawsuit possibly taking away a large chunk of the mythology thus creating a certain bias against Supes from the top down. Now they can let the franchise soar without fear of that happening. Hopefully with a new film on the horizon, top shelf talent on three Superman books, and the 75th anniversary looming WB/DC will give Supes some of that spotlight Batman has been hogging for 10 years or so. Hey, a guy can dream can't he. :)

Posted by whitelantern64

Hey what could the Shuster's estate do anyway? Its not like even if they got those rights back, they could have sold them to another comic company. Marvel is the only other company that had enough money, except for WB, to buy the rights to Superman and the only universe large enough where Superman could have fit, albeit with some serious wriggling on the part of Marvel. But why would Marvel want to even bother with its own heavy hitters. If anything, they would buy the rights and just keep supes on the shelf to screw over WB and they wouldn't likely pay as much money fir WB for that right. If I was that estate, I would have just argued for a large lump sum or a few grand a year for the rest of existence for superman and require that credit be given to Shuster and Siegal in every work with Superman. Really its the latter I think that's more important cause Superman is part of History now and will no doubt last for ages like Beowulf, David (of the Goliath), and Paul Bunyun and Shuster and Seigal should always get props for creating a cultural Icon.

Posted by Reignmaker

@Zeeguy91 said:

@PepeLepw55: Are you just complaining about the costume design, because I think that him in armor is better than him in what was essentially a blue leatard with underwear stapled on top.

This. Once the movie version presents a Superman with no underwear on top, I think people will be more accepting. Assuming it's decent.

Posted by supermanfan1234

yes yes yes!! take that you selfish pr--ks!!!

Edited by evilvegeta74

Glad it worked for DC, but come on now thats the biggest sham ever. You get the rights to the biggest DC character ever and all you have to do is pay medical expenses of the deceased. What that isn't a third of comic sales in a year by the worst comic characters sale at DC, da-sham! I'm happy for DC but:

Daa-SHAAMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!! is on!

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