Jack Kirby Declared A Mere Marvel Workerbee… Heirs Can't Reclaim Copyrights On Hulk Or X-Men
from the termination-battles dept
We’ve been covering the looming boatload of copyright termination cases because it’s going to make for an interesting spectacle in the copyright realm. As you may or may not know, current copyright law in the US allows the original creator of a work the right to reclaim the copyright at a certain point — a right that cannot be waived. There was, however, one exception put into copyright law at the urging of certain industries: if a work was declared a “work for hire,” then it would not be subject to termination rights. We’ve already seen one big battle over termination rights with Superman and a second battle has been focused on the heirs of famed comicbook artist Jack Kriby, who sent out a flurry of copyright termination notices back in 2009.
However, in the first lawsuit concerning the Kirby family’s attempt to reclaim the rights to the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men, Marvel has prevailed. As Marvel (now owned by Disney) had argued, the judge found that Kirby was merely a Marvel workerbee and, thus, the characters he created were done under a work-for-hire basis. Of course, this case is far from over and Kirby’s heirs intend to appeal. No matter what, this case will be watched closely, because an awful lot of artists can reclaim their works in 2013… and these legal disputes will determine what’s really allowed.