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Major guilds support Kirby vs. Marvel's rights to properties (Up: Settlment Reached)

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antonz

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Not if Disney has something to say about it.

I think the Kirby heirs deserve a piece of the pie. Maybe not complete ownership of the characters, who -- to be fair -- weren't created by them and have been considerably changed over the years. But a piece. A continuing royalty in perpetuity. Not even necessarily any control over use. But every time one of Jack's characters is used, they should get a percentage.

Re: Spidey. Both Jack and Joe Simon have always claimed that they came up with Spider-Man. Stan says it's not true. There's evidence on both sides, and since most of the people involved are dead, we'll likely never know. A lot of it comes down to how honest you think Stan is.

I Agree with this. At this point any kind of ownership transfers would have serious damaging effects on the properties even if only half ownership because it would become a constant fight over usage.

The Heirs getting a piece of the pie each time characters used would be sufficient
 

Lothars

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Not if Disney has something to say about it.

I think the Kirby heirs deserve a piece of the pie. Maybe not complete ownership of the characters, who -- to be fair -- weren't created by them and have been considerably changed over the years. But a piece. A continuing royalty in perpetuity. Not even necessarily any control over use. But every time one of Jack's characters is used, they should get a percentage.

Re: Spidey. Both Jack and Joe Simon have always claimed that they came up with Spider-Man. Stan says it's not true. There's evidence on both sides, and since most of the people involved are dead, we'll likely never know. A lot of it comes down to how honest you think Stan is.
I agree with you
 

MHWilliams

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The copyright termination battle has been going on since 2009. The Kirby's have lost every case up until this point.

Note: Kirby died in 1994. His daughter worked with Marvel in 2006 to publish Kirby related work.

The 2009 legal stuff didn't happen until Marc Toberoff entered the picture.

The children of Kirby, who died in 1994, are being represented by Los Angeles law firm Toberoff & Associates, which has represented the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel in a similar claim against Warner Bros.

I'm guessing he's lured them with talk of big profits and judging on what the Marvel movies make, they could make a mint.

Kirby's children would be eligible to claim their father's portion of the copyright of the Fantastic Four in 2017; the Hulk would come up in 2018 and X-Men in 2019. The copyrights would then run for 39 more years.

Marvel and Disney did try to pay the heirs, but I assume Toberoff told them to hold out.

At the time, Marvel and Disney said the family simply had no rights to terminate but tried to find an arrangement with the heirs. After attempts to strike a deal faltered, they sued the Kirbys on January 8, 2010, to invalidate the notices. Marc Toberoff, who also represented the heirs to the Superman creators in their long legal copyright battle with Warner Bros, served as the Kirbys’ attorney.

On one hand, there should be some compensation. Yes, Kirby did get paid back in the day to create the characters, but they've had a big impact. On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that it was indeed work-for-hire. Note: Stan Lee doesn't own any of those characters either. Marvel just pays him as Chairman Emeritus or something weird like that.
 

freeofgreed

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Pardon my ignorance but usually in movies, TV shows, Video games etc.. when ever a person makes a new character/IP it's owned by the publisher and not the creator. Is there any reason why Comic books, or more specifically Jack Kirby's case is any different? I don't know the back story on this one.
 

Slayven

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The copyright termination battle has been going on since 2009. The Kirby's have lost every case up until this point.

Note: Kirby died in 1994. His daughter worked with Marvel in 2006 to publish Kirby related work.

The 2009 legal stuff didn't happen until Marc Toberoff entered the picture.



I'm guessing he's lured them with talk of big profits and judging on what the Marvel movies make, they could make a mint.



Marvel and Disney did try to pay the heirs, but I assume Toberoff told them to hold out.



On one hand, there should be some compensation. Yes, Kirby did get paid back in the day to create the characters, but they've had a big impact. On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that it was indeed work-for-hire.

Thank you, you are always on point.
 

Hot Coldman

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BLACKLAC

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The copyright termination battle has been going on since 2009. The Kirby's have lost every case up until this point.

Note: Kirby died in 1994. His daughter worked with Marvel in 2006 to publish Kirby related work.

The 2009 legal stuff didn't happen until Marc Toberoff entered the picture.



I'm guessing he's lured them with talk of big profits and judging on what the Marvel movies make, they could make a mint.



Marvel and Disney did try to pay the heirs, but I assume Toberoff told them to hold out.



On one hand, there should be some compensation. Yes, Kirby did get paid back in the day to create the characters, but they've had a big impact. On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that it was indeed work-for-hire. Note: Stan Lee doesn't own any of those characters either. Marvel just pays him as Chairman Emeritus or something weird like that.

They should have taken the money.

Disney's going to fuck them sideways.
 

mreddie

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The copyright termination battle has been going on since 2009. The Kirby's have lost every case up until this point.

Note: Kirby died in 1994. His daughter worked with Marvel in 2006 to publish Kirby related work.

The 2009 legal stuff didn't happen until Marc Toberoff entered the picture.



I'm guessing he's lured them with talk of big profits and judging on what the Marvel movies make, they could make a mint.



Marvel and Disney did try to pay the heirs, but I assume Toberoff told them to hold out.



On one hand, there should be some compensation. Yes, Kirby did get paid back in the day to create the characters, but they've had a big impact. On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that it was indeed work-for-hire. Note: Stan Lee doesn't own any of those characters either. Marvel just pays him as Chairman Emeritus or something weird like that.

So basically, the lawyers ruining everything?
 

Loxley

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If nothing else, they deserve at least some compensation as an apology from Fox for screwing up the Silver Surfer.
 

Lebron

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The copyright termination battle has been going on since 2009. The Kirby's have lost every case up until this point.

Note: Kirby died in 1994. His daughter worked with Marvel in 2006 to publish Kirby related work.

The 2009 legal stuff didn't happen until Marc Toberoff entered the picture.



I'm guessing he's lured them with talk of big profits and judging on what the Marvel movies make, they could make a mint.



Marvel and Disney did try to pay the heirs, but I assume Toberoff told them to hold out.



On one hand, there should be some compensation. Yes, Kirby did get paid back in the day to create the characters, but they've had a big impact. On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that it was indeed work-for-hire. Note: Stan Lee doesn't own any of those characters either. Marvel just pays him as Chairman Emeritus or something weird like that.
So basically, they want all the monies because fancy lawyer said and will get steam rolled by Disney's super lawyers because they were stupid and didn't take the early olive branch offer? Cool.

Thanks for clearing everything up with information.
 

Anbokr

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I'm also wondering what Kirby's claim to Spider-Man is, never heard that before.

The official story is Stan Lee and Ditko came up with and created Spider-man. The unofficial is that Jack Kirby came up with the concept of Spider-man, which was then taken by Lee and given to Ditko for illustration. The evidence for the latter basically comes from Spider-man being so damn similar to a character that was previously created by Kirby, called the Fly.

If anyone is interested in all the drama surrounding the whole "who created Spider-man?" debate, here's an article that is pretty interesting and sheds some light on the whole situation. It's pretty long but also pretty informative.
 

AlexMogil

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Funfact: Marvel sued him over this, and they settled. One part of the settlement was The Fighting American could never ever throw his shield.

I just read that on Wikipedia. This pleases me.

Of course if he threw his shield it wouldn't come close to hitting anything because it isn't round.
 

Slayven

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They should have a class in law school just for comic book legal mess. They could do a whole Semester just on Captain Marvel.

Didn't know this was a thing.

I know DC has had legal troubles with the Schusters for a long time.

Thats another thing, they ain't suing for The New Gods. Marvel rejected the concept for the New Gods and Kirby took them right over to DC.
 

MHWilliams

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Thank you, you are always on point.

No problem.

Pardon my ignorance but usually in movies, TV shows, Video games etc.. when ever a person makes a new character/IP it's owned by the publisher and not the creator. Is there any reason why Comic books, or more specifically Jack Kirby's case is any different? I don't know the back story on this one.

Back in the day, a lot of these guys weren't working under hard contracts. Realize, they didn't expect this shit to be a billion dollar industry one day, they were just drawing colorful characters in comic books. So, Kirby and co were drawing a salary from Marvel, but after that it gets fuzzy. If it's work-for-hire under the Copyright Act, like it is these days, Marvel owns everything and anything else they give the creators is pro-bono. If it's something else, Kirby and crew have some rights to the characters they created, at least enough to get a percentage of the profits any time those characters are used.

Kirby's heirs are arguing that under the Copyright Act of 1909, Kirby was an independent contractor, not a full employee, so he retains some rights to the characters. Even on that, work-for-hire is a bit fuzzy. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the legalese is much stronger and Kirby's stuff is straight up work-for-hire.

The thing is, they're up against Disney. Disney is the one who got the Copyright Act changed to keep Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. That's a lot of power, which is why the public perception of this case isn't so much about just this case any more. This is about the little guy winning against Marvel, and by extension Disney.
 

DonasaurusRex

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Marvel should've paid Kirbys estate long ago, he and a handful of other creators saved the imprint. To me theres not doubt about the FF4, half the avengers , spiderman even though the popular incarnation of the character was due to Ditko, and half the marvel U came from that 113 issue run with Lee and Kirby on FF4 sooooo yeah. Xmen however...that got shit canned. Claremont and Shooter, Wein and Byrne made that incarnation of the book big, the kirby / lee run was forgotten and shit compared to Uncanny Xmen. I wonder how you go about this , i mean what can get a win for the Kirby estate if they had a work contract agreed upon signed and filed. Shitty contracts are still contracts.
 

kess

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The official story is Stan Lee and Ditko came up with and created Spider-man. The unofficial is that Jack Kirby came up with the concept of Spider-man, which was then taken by Lee and given to Ditko for illustration. The evidence for the latter basically comes from Spider-man being so damn similar to a character that was previously created by Kirby, called the Fly.

I can't wait for the Supreme Court arguments.



"Hey Scalia, this fat, bulbous pseudo-invertebrate looks like you"
 

OSHAN

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Bill Finger's descendants should do the same. I am not sure what to think of this. On one hand, Marvel and co make good movies. On the other end publishers fucked creators over.

With the bullshit Kane pulled Finger's family can't do shit.
 

DonasaurusRex

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They should have a class in law school just for comic book legal mess. They could do a whole Semester just on Captain Marvel.



Thats another thing, they ain't suing for The New Gods. Marvel rejected the concept for the New Gods and Kirby took them right over to DC.

The captain marvel thing was just utter bullshit, what claim did DC even have outside of money in hats. In hindsight there are like 40 other superman like heroes, and to be honest superman didnt even have all the powers he had now, however Capt Marvel was the absolutely strong, super speed, flight and had teenage sidekicks. I will never understand how Fawcett lost.
 

Slayven

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The captain marvel thing was just utter bullshit, what claim did DC even have outside of money in hats. In hindsight there are like 40 other superman like heroes, and to be honest superman didnt even have all the powers he had now, however Capt Marvel was the absolutely strong, super speed, flight and had teenage sidekicks. I will never understand how Fawcett lost.

Then Marvel came and snatched the name AND then killed the dude with it. That is gangster shit.
 

Brakke

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The only way this makes any sense is if the heirs turn around and immediately sell / foreverlicense the characters to Marvel. Marvel as a whole's the reason those characters are worth what they are today, Kirby stopped being involved what, 30 years ago?
 

FourMyle

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X-Men would be much, much better off if it were its own thing rather than forced in with all that other shitty Marvel stuff.
 

RealDeadOne

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Pardon my ignorance but usually in movies, TV shows, Video games etc.. when ever a person makes a new character/IP it's owned by the publisher and not the creator. Is there any reason why Comic books, or more specifically Jack Kirby's case is any different? I don't know the back story on this one.
Main reason is they got paid pennies back in the day to make this stuff but the publishers are still raking in millions to this day so people like Siegel and Shuster and Kirby feel it's a little unfair that so much is being made off something they got paid a hundred bucks for.

I believe the contracts are pretty explicit but the argument is that they got taken advantage of because they were young and broke.
 

MHWilliams

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It's worth nothing that Marvel probably should've paid these guys more and the company did some shitty legal stuff, like forcing creators to sign a rights release form to get back their old artwork. But Marvel and Kirby eventually settled that.

http://www.tcj.com/kirby-and-goliath-the-fight-for-jack-kirbys-marvel-artwork/

As Marvel had returned new original art from 1976 on, artists had been required to sign brief release statements, about four lines long, and the 1984 offer to return the stored original art was also accompanied by the requirement that a one-page release form be signed. The form described the art return as “a gift” from Marvel to the creators. By signing the form, the creators agreed that the art had been work for hire and that Marvel was “the exclusive worldwide owner of all copyright” related to the art. Creators were required to grant Marvel the right to use the artists’ name and likeness in promotions.

The form’s language was reminiscent of the contracts that had been instituted in 1979, and some creators objected to both the wording and the coercive tactic of tying it to the return of original art. Neal Adams told the Journal at the time, “Anybody who signs that form is crazy…. You dangle a carrot in front of the artists’ faces, saying, ‘If you want your art sign this form.’ It’s not true; you don’t have to sign it.”

Most artists signed the form and received their art, and even Kirby said he would’ve been willing to sign it, but that was not the option that Marvel offered him. If some artists had found the one-page release objectionable, Kirby was outraged to find that he and he alone had been sent a four-page document that multiplied the obligations of the creator and the rights claimed by the publisher. Even the nature of the “gift” was qualified in the form sent to Kirby. Where the one-page form offered creators “the original physical artwork,” Kirby’s form offered “physical custody of the specific portion of the original artwork.” Always careful not to acknowledge that the artists had any right to the art, the one-page forms made clear at least that the artists would be the owners of the art once the “gift” had been accepted. The gift to Kirby, however, was nothing more than the right to store the art on behalf of Marvel. Though it would be in his possession, there was nothing that Kirby would be allowed to do with it: “The Artist agrees that it will make no copies or reproductions of the Artwork, or any portion thereof, in any manner, that it will prepare no other artwork or material based upon, derived from or utilizing the Artwork, that it will not publicly exhibit or display any portion of the Artwork without Marvel’s advance written permission, and that it will not commercially exploit or attempt to exploit the Artwork or any material based upon, derived from or utilizing the Artwork in any manner or media, and that it will not permit, license or assist anyone else in doing any of the foregoing.”

...

The long form addressed the question of copyrights in a manner similar to the short form, but in greater detail and with greater care to ensuring that Marvel retained “in perpetuity all other rights whatsoever.” In airtight language, the formed claimed for Marvel all copyrights that belonged to the company under the law, but in the event that there were rights that Marvel was not entitled to under the law, it insisted that the artist surrender those as well: “To the extent, if any, that all copyright rights and all related rights in and to the Artwork are not owned by Marvel as provided above by operation of law, the Artist hereby irrevocably grants, conveys, transfers and assigns its entire worldwide right, title and interest therein to Marvel.”

To Kirby, who publicly disavowed any wish to challenge Marvel’s copyrights, one of the most troubling aspects of the document he was given to sign concerned his right to “assist others in contesting or disputing, Marvel’s complete, exclusive and unrestricted ownership of the copyright to the Artwork.” He feared this passage would prohibit him from testifying on behalf of any other creators who might contest Marvel’s copyright claims or its claims to ownership of all original art done for the company. In fact, it forbade him from objecting even in private to the unfairness of the agreement that Marvel sought to impose upon him.

Marvel’s statement suggested that the conflict was moving closer to resolution as Kirby clarified that he was not interested in challenging Marvel’s copyrights. Marvel, for its part, was willing to drop the four-page release if Kirby would sign the short form. By this time, Marvel was apparently eager to return the art pages and put the whole fiasco behind it, but among the details that remained to be worked out was Kirby’s demand that he be granted creator credits whenever Marvel and its licensees used his characters. In his statement, Hobson said Kirby had demanded that he be identified as the sole creator of such characters as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Hulk. Roz Kirby told the Journal her husband would not sign the short form until the art that was to be returned was identified in its entirety. The credit issues had been raised, she said, due to the absence of Kirby’s name in the creator credits of past projects, and their demand was only that Kirby be among those credited.

The final resolution came in May of 1987, nearly three years after Marvel had first begun returning original art backstock and nearly 30 years after it had begun accumulating the art. Marvel had dropped its demand that Kirby sign the four-page document and had amended the short form to address his concerns. Details of the amendments were not made public, but Kirby’s lawyer, Greg Victoroff, told the Journal, “Jack got just about everything he wanted.” The form was signed and the art was returned. The eventual tally of Kirby art Marvel had collected for return came to approximately 1,900 pages, still far short of his total output for Marvel but considerably more than the amount originally specified.

In the end, Marvel was so worn down by the controversy over its original art policies that it returned Neal Adams’ art in May of 1987 without even requiring him to sign the short form.
 

Slayven

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Jim Starlin , what else you expect? Then after he was done at marvel he came back and did Thanos Quest /Infinity Gauntlet just to block another dude from using his cosmic chars. Baws.

Remember when he went indie kinda and made a book about a cosmic protector of order that fought against a big purple dude?
 

DonasaurusRex

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Remember when he went indie kinda and made a book about a cosmic protector of order that fought against a big purple dude?

I wonder who had plans for Thanos that got Jim Starlin in all his post Vietnam give no fucks to say "Whos doing WHAT?.....fuck it ill come back and do a 56 part story across 12 books and tie Thanos up for so long that guy wont be able to touch em....fuck that shit....Then ill do infinity war after that...."
 

Slayven

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I wonder who had plans for Thanos that got Jim Starlin in all his post Vietnam give no fucks to say "Whos doing WHAT?.....fuck it ill come back and do a 56 part story across 12 books and tie Thanos up for so long that guy wont be able to touch em....fuck that shit....Then ill do infinity war after that...."
Reminds me of when DC had McDuffie write JLA. But tied his hands up, they wouldn't even let him use Hawkgirl. I mean Hawkgirl, who ever gave two fucks about Hawkgirl?
 

Parallax

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I wonder who had plans for Thanos that got Jim Starlin in all his post Vietnam give no fucks to say "Whos doing WHAT?.....fuck it ill come back and do a 56 part story across 12 books and tie Thanos up for so long that guy wont be able to touch em....fuck that shit....Then ill do infinity war after that...."

im dying
 

Slayven

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And dude came back to kill Thanos and have Thanos fix the universe so no one could be resurrected so no one could use Thanos again.


1 month later Marvel promptly ignores that shit by resurrecting Wonder Man I think of all people.
 

Ri'Orius

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The contracts weren't iron-clad in that way back then.

Later on, when creators like Steve Gerber challenged this, it was a case of moral standing more than anything. I mean, look at a guy like Bill Mantlo, who created Rocket Raccoon. Sure, he did it on a work-for-hire basis that likely seemed fair when he was creating a minor character to pay the rent, but now he's rotting in hospice with a brain injury and bills are mounting while his creation is the driving force being selling a movie that will make millions.

The contracts should be way more fair and include royalties for all appearances. It simply isn't fair. Legal? Definitely.

But would they have kept using Rocket Raccoon if they had to pay royalties the whole time?

One of the great things about Marvel and DC comics is the continuity. Yes, it's at best inconsistent as various artists take over various characters (Magneto is sometimes a well-intentioned extremist, others a psychopath). And it gets downright laughable at points. But watching characters evolve (and then get rebooted) over decades is something comics do that I haven't seen in any other medium.

And part of the reason that could happen was that there wasn't the financial disincentive to reusing characters. As writers and artists came and went, Marvel as a whole could keep using the same stable of characters. Add in new ones when necessary, keep the ones that work, ignore the ones that don't. Evolve over time without worrying about renegotiating contracts with the guy who drew Spider-Man for the first time three decades ago.

I dunno, I just don't think that any of these characters are the superstars they are today due solely to their creators. I've read some of the early comics, and they're pretty rough. It's decades of polish and work that have turned them into the icons they are today. So I don't see a need to reward the people who showed up first with more than their salary.
 

Sheroking

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What are they entitled to? They didn't create the characters.

Jack Kirby was entitled to profit participation and the many millions he would have made would have been passed down with the rest of his estate.

Therefore his children are entitled.
 

Megalosaro

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Pardon my ignorance but usually in movies, TV shows, Video games etc.. when ever a person makes a new character/IP it's owned by the publisher and not the creator. Is there any reason why Comic books, or more specifically Jack Kirby's case is any different? I don't know the back story on this one.

Video games and movies are more collaborative than comics. Even then im a supporter of the studio that created the original work ratjer than publishers.

Im still surprised yuji horii, akira toriyama, and koichicl sugiyama have as much ownership as they do over dragon quest
 

DonasaurusRex

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Reminds me of when DC had McDuffie write JLA. But tied his hands up, they wouldn't even let him use Hawkgirl. I mean Hawkgirl, who ever gave two fucks about Hawkgirl?

What is going on with Milestone does his wife have the rights to that imprint now that Mc Duffie passed away or something? Dwayne was that dude, and he saved that Smedium good JL show with the impressive JLU show and come on, Damage Inc. Nothing else is needed.
 
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