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Kirby Estate Lawsuit

09.21.2009
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The Great Jack

Comics aficionados need no introduction to the late great Jack Kirby; to those who do, let's just say Marvel would probably be nowhere without him, having created or co-created most of the publisher's major silver-age characters.

Kirby's relationship with Marvel had always been tumultuous at best, especially when it comes to copyrights, a battle that he claimed in the 70s to not be ready for. His kids are though, as the New York Times reports that the man's estate has sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and just about anyone who's making any use of the characters he was involved with.

These types of lawsuits aren't uncommon in the biz, but this one rings a little different, and dare I say scarier, for those on the receiving end: the Kirby heirs are apparently being represented by Marc Toberoff, AKA the same gentleman who recently gave large chunks of Superman back to the Siegel estate.

Since my own legal expertise extends as far as watching Jack McCoy growl it out on Law & Order, I really can't say what the implications of the suit might be, but I'd guess the end goal is more monetary restitution than actually stopping RDJ from flying in a red/gold armor suit. Still, let's keep an eye out for this one...

Extra Tidbit: I say go ahead and sue Mark Steven Johnson's ass off for ruining Ghost Rider!
Source: New York Times

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+1
2:04PM on 09/22/2009

A big difference here...

The creators of Superman came up with their character independantly, then made the mistake of selling it to DC for an unfair price. However, Jack Kirby was an employee of Marvel when he came up with all of those characters, and he did so under contract. It sucks that he didn't get paid more for it, but he's never owned even a tiny part of the characters' copyrights (unlike Siegel and Schuster who actually owned the entire copyright to Superman before the sold it to DC). A large part of the
The creators of Superman came up with their character independantly, then made the mistake of selling it to DC for an unfair price. However, Jack Kirby was an employee of Marvel when he came up with all of those characters, and he did so under contract. It sucks that he didn't get paid more for it, but he's never owned even a tiny part of the characters' copyrights (unlike Siegel and Schuster who actually owned the entire copyright to Superman before the sold it to DC). A large part of the Superman case rested on the fact that DC did not pay fair market price for the copyright.

Ethics aside, I really don't see how Kirby's estate has much of a legal claim to the characters. I mean it's the same way that video game characters or movie characters or cartoon characters are all owned by studios rather than the individual artists That's just standard practice for these industries. (Most of) Those artists work under contract and therefor forfeit any legal claim to their creations, which is exactly what Kirby did. I could see them possibly being successful suing for back payment for royalties, but not for copyrights.
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4:46PM on 09/21/2009

according

to another article they are trying to regain all copyrights of his characters. This will be interesting to see...
to another article they are trying to regain all copyrights of his characters. This will be interesting to see...
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1:52PM on 09/21/2009

Kirby the Legend

I say give the fam a piece of the pie and don't interfere with filming!!
I say give the fam a piece of the pie and don't interfere with filming!!
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-1
1:17PM on 09/21/2009
jack kirby created everything marvel ffs.
think of all the characters and worlds and cosmic dots! he created.
fuckin marvel should be ashamed of themselves.
jack kirby created everything marvel ffs.
think of all the characters and worlds and cosmic dots! he created.
fuckin marvel should be ashamed of themselves.
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1:23PM on 09/21/2009
He created a lot of the characters, but not everything. For example he didn't create Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Blade or Punisher.
He created a lot of the characters, but not everything. For example he didn't create Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Blade or Punisher.
10:34PM on 09/21/2009
yeah agreed he didnt have anything to do with the later characters, and not to make an issue out of it, but kirby and ditko designed spiderman, kirby and bill everett designed daredevil who was then drawn by wally wood(yellow suit)
yeah agreed he didnt have anything to do with the later characters, and not to make an issue out of it, but kirby and ditko designed spiderman, kirby and bill everett designed daredevil who was then drawn by wally wood(yellow suit)
1:46PM on 09/22/2009
Well not to make an issue on it, but Kirby actually did not design Spidey. Stan Lee completely created the character of Spider-Man on his own (although he started off using elements from a character he created with Joe Simon in the 50's, those elements were later ditched). Once he had the character designed he had Kirby put together some test art, but Lee actually rejected Kirby's design and had Steve Ditko redwork the character from scratch. So the only part Kirby had in Spidey's creation was
Well not to make an issue on it, but Kirby actually did not design Spidey. Stan Lee completely created the character of Spider-Man on his own (although he started off using elements from a character he created with Joe Simon in the 50's, those elements were later ditched). Once he had the character designed he had Kirby put together some test art, but Lee actually rejected Kirby's design and had Steve Ditko redwork the character from scratch. So the only part Kirby had in Spidey's creation was coming up with rejected character designs. Lee's exact words:

"I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly, it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic".

As for Daredevil, again Stan Lee created the character himself (Name, powers, origin, backstory, supporting cast). Everett and Kirby just came up with the visual look for the character.
+2
12:51PM on 09/21/2009
Good. Kirby pretty much died penniless. I hope this goes through.
Good. Kirby pretty much died penniless. I hope this goes through.
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9:06AM on 09/21/2009

This is Good!

Kirby created much more than he will EVER be given credit for. Marvel, even in the 70's, were a bunch of cheap bastards; now they're just monsters. Not only would I like to see more money go to his family, but I'd like to start seeing some authorship credits.
Kirby created much more than he will EVER be given credit for. Marvel, even in the 70's, were a bunch of cheap bastards; now they're just monsters. Not only would I like to see more money go to his family, but I'd like to start seeing some authorship credits.
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