Marvel and Disney go back to court over the rights to Ghost Rider
When Disney and Marvel regained the rights to GHOST RIDER earlier this year it seemed a pretty safe bet that the character would be used on the big screen again at some point. While nothing was formally in development, a new snag has popped up in the ongoing legal battle over who has the rights to the character.
It all goes back to the creation of the Ghost Rider character. Back in 1972, Gary Friedrich created the character as a freelancer at Marvel. He never created any other characters at the comic company and has fought for a piece of the pie ever since. The judge ruled in favor of Marvel and then GHOST RIDER producers Columbia Tri-Star. But, now with the rights at Marvel/Disney, the lawsuit is coming back up.
Deadline gives a nice breakdown of what is going on with the lawsuit:
Marvel never disputed that Friedrich had played a part in creating Ghost Rider but claimed it was a collaborative process that had brought the character to the comic pages and that the writer had assigned any rights he may have had in signing a work-for-hire agreement in 1978. Friedrich never wrote anything again for Marvel after that. Under copyright law, Friedrich would have acquired the renewal right in 2001 but neither he nor Marvel made any attempt to enter into a new agreement. Marvel later arguing they didnt believe they had to though they did send the writer some royalty checks in 2005 for some reprints after his attorney contacted the company. Two years later he sued. In December 2011, just as a Ghost Rider sequel was about to be released, Judge Katherine Forrest found in Marvel and the other defendants favor. Friedrich appealed, the case was argued in front of Judges Chin, Winter and Droney back in late February and everyone now finds themselves almost back at square one.
With no GHOST RIDER movie in development (as far as we know), this may not be something Disney is hard pressed to resolve and can drag this out for a while. If they do intend for the character to appear in a future phase of their films, things may be different. Sony was going through financial issues during the last round of legal battles in this case and may not have wanted to give in to ownership claims. Disney has a lot more money and a lot more lawyers, so this could go either way.
Does it really matter in the end? Is Disney willing to make the dark GHOST RIDER that we deserve?
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