Marvel is heading to court, as it seeks to fend off termination notices surrounding the copyrights of some of its most popular characters.
Marvel has something of a challenge on its hands. Last week, it was on the receiving end of termination notices, served on behalf of heirs of five comic book creators. The notices, that were lodged with the US Copyright Officer, would see Marvel still keeping the rights to its characters, but also having to pay the heirs of the people who created them.
The characters affected by the legal move include Iron Man, Dr Strange, Captain Marvel and Blade, amongst many others. These are characters that have made hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars for Marvel. In a surprise to nobody, it’s fighting the termination notices.
Marvel’s lawsuit thus argues that the creators involved were under ‘work for hire’ arrangements. As such, it continues, the work that was completed belongs to Marvel. This is being contested by the representatives for the heirs, who instead argue that the creators involved were contractors. As such, they have a claim to reclaim copyright to their work.
Given that there’s a lot of money involved in this one, few are expecting a speedy resolution. But this is one of the highest profile termination cases to date, and should it succeed, that many major movie franchises will also come into focus (copyright of some, such as Predator and The Terminator is already in the limelight).
More on this one as we hear it. To be clear, there’s no question that Marvel would lose rights to the characters concerned. It’s just it’d have to share in their financial success.
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