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Marvel and Disney go back to court over the rights to Ghost Rider

06.11.2013

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 didn’t 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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Source: Deadline

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3:21AM on 06/13/2013
While I'm certain Ghost Rider has it's fans, I can't help but wonder if this property really is worth battling over. Are there really that many movie goers clamoring for another Ghost Rider movie? I get the sense that when it comes to big money corporations with battalion size in-house legal departments any lawsuit is a good lawsuit.
While I'm certain Ghost Rider has it's fans, I can't help but wonder if this property really is worth battling over. Are there really that many movie goers clamoring for another Ghost Rider movie? I get the sense that when it comes to big money corporations with battalion size in-house legal departments any lawsuit is a good lawsuit.
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11:16AM on 06/12/2013
It is kinda sad we see this so often in the Comic book world when it gets made into a film. Once big money gets involved it gets instantly litigious. This has happened multiple times. When Disney bought marvel you knew something like this would come up. Wasn't there also something similar with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit? Lawsuits and all that? It just slows down the creative and collaborative process. Everyone wants a piece of the pie.
It is kinda sad we see this so often in the Comic book world when it gets made into a film. Once big money gets involved it gets instantly litigious. This has happened multiple times. When Disney bought marvel you knew something like this would come up. Wasn't there also something similar with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit? Lawsuits and all that? It just slows down the creative and collaborative process. Everyone wants a piece of the pie.
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10:33AM on 06/12/2013
I don't really know how much trouble Ghost Rider is worth, but he would fit in to the same "Max" style movie universe as Daredevil and the Punisher.
I don't really know how much trouble Ghost Rider is worth, but he would fit in to the same "Max" style movie universe as Daredevil and the Punisher.
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12:30AM on 06/13/2013
agree....if they could somehow make a darker more edgier side of Marvel Movies then these guys could exist in that world...and maybe later sneak into other movies....even if its just for a very quick cameo....it adds soo much depth to the movies to just know that they are around.....man look at Spiderman...just to know he is around in Avengers would be HUGE...bigger bucks for Disney than Sony is making with him, thats for sure.
agree....if they could somehow make a darker more edgier side of Marvel Movies then these guys could exist in that world...and maybe later sneak into other movies....even if its just for a very quick cameo....it adds soo much depth to the movies to just know that they are around.....man look at Spiderman...just to know he is around in Avengers would be HUGE...bigger bucks for Disney than Sony is making with him, thats for sure.
8:14AM on 06/12/2013
Wouldn't doubt we'll see another Ghost Rider movie in our life time, but I'm sure it won't be any time soon
Wouldn't doubt we'll see another Ghost Rider movie in our life time, but I'm sure it won't be any time soon
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9:33PM on 06/11/2013

He's not getting any more money

The paid him already. Twice. The only reason why he wants more money now is because Disney now owns the rights.
The paid him already. Twice. The only reason why he wants more money now is because Disney now owns the rights.
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9:29PM on 06/11/2013
I think the first Ghost Rider was better than the second but the second had better villains.
I think the first Ghost Rider was better than the second but the second had better villains.
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6:40PM on 06/11/2013
I would just like a damn good Ghost Rider film already.
I would just like a damn good Ghost Rider film already.
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6:17PM on 06/11/2013
Just give him his damn money. How greedy can a multibillion dollar company be?
Just give him his damn money. How greedy can a multibillion dollar company be?
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6:13PM on 06/11/2013
Seems pretty well known that work-for-hire doesn't establish any legal ownership. Its the exact reason Image Comics was founded in the first place.
Seems pretty well known that work-for-hire doesn't establish any legal ownership. Its the exact reason Image Comics was founded in the first place.
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7:04PM on 06/11/2013
except a work-for-hire agreement is just a piece of paper. whether the doctrine applies is way more nuanced.
except a work-for-hire agreement is just a piece of paper. whether the doctrine applies is way more nuanced.
5:32PM on 06/11/2013
You snooze you lose, plain & simple.
You snooze you lose, plain & simple.
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+11
5:27PM on 06/11/2013

Yea....

I can't see anyone beating the Disney lawyers
I can't see anyone beating the Disney lawyers
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