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Businesses Entertainment

Warner Bros Secures Commercial Control of Superman 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the faster-than-a-speeding-cease-and-desist dept.
AliasMarlowe writes "Warner Bros have won an important legal victory over the heirs of one of the creators of Superman, giving it total commercial control of the superhero. An appeals panel unanimously ruled that Jerome Siegel's heirs must abide by a 2001 letter accepting Warner's offer for their 50% share of Superman. The letter was never formally turned into a contract, but the Judge considered that it represented an oral agreement, which was binding. Warner Brothers now owns 100% of the Superman franchise."
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Warner Bros Secures Commercial Control of Superman

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:01PM (#42575609)

    Then all this arguing would've been for nothing.

  • Licensing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cruciform (42896) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:06PM (#42575645) Homepage

    I think the most sensible thing for creators to do now is license rights, as opposed to sell. I'd rather copyright just go away after 20 years, opening up a whole new realm of fiction based on the original, but with the current system licensing seems better than someone getting the rights to your creation and then locking you out of it completely.
    To a big company buying up the rights from the little guys isn't a huge expense in the scheme of things, while an artist or writer may find that the offer they are facing will keep a roof over their head for a year or two longer, putting them at a disadvantage at the bargaining table.

  • Re:Public domain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:17PM (#42575723) Homepage Journal

    >How is Superman not public domain by now?

    'Important', wealthy people own copyrights. Those copyrights expire. When they're nearly up, they lobby the government to make sure they can keep making money. The government listens to them because they have money and can therefore 'spread it around' (the government is corrupt) which results in a policy of 'the needs of the wealthy outweigh the needs of the many'.

    Copyright will never end on mickey Mouse until he becomes an unprofitable commodity. The powerful and wealthy will bribe the easily corrupted and you'll get the 'best democracy money can buy'.

    I hope that's answered your question.

  • Re:Licensing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:25PM (#42575779)

    Licensing out is for CORPORATIONS, not puny serfs. Corporations are people, IS life itself, not people. People die easily and do not matter in the long run.
    The same laws that protected and ensured prosperity to INDIANS, now apply to us all.
    God help us all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:29PM (#42575809)

    Contracts are only valid when they favour commercial interests. A while ago, there was a case in my region of a property developer pre-selling homes with a down payment. The market surged and so the developer went back to the buyers and told them they could pay more than the "guaranteed price" or they could have their deposit back. They sued, and the judge ruled that the developed didn't have to follow the contract.

    Ultimately the moral of the story is, those with the gold make the rules.

  • by just_a_monkey (1004343) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:34PM (#42575849)

    Fans could not be sure that the movie that they were going to see was the "official" Superman

    The... The horror!

  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:45PM (#42575927) Homepage Journal

    Disagree. After a reasonable time, it should pass into the public domain. Anyone should be able to make a superman movie, comic, etc.

    Hell, look how many "reboots" comics and sci-fi have recently received. Anyone should be able to reboot (or stick to the original) after things pass into PD - and things should pass.

  • Re:Public domain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:03PM (#42576031) Homepage

    I have heard many times "...a superman..." used in a context which does not have anything to do with the character Superman. Depending on the context, it is a part of the English language.

  • Grimly Amusing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:53PM (#42576355)

    " ...the families of both creators have been paid in excess of $4m since 1978." So each "family" has received $2 million over the past 35 years? That comes out to a little over $57k a year. Meanwhile, movie grosses alone for the same time period were claimed to be $500 million. So the creators got less than 1% between the two of them, and we're not even talking merchandising. Fuck you, Warner Brothers.

  • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@LISPgmail.com minus language> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @04:14PM (#42576491)

    They sued, and the judge ruled that the developed didn't have to follow the contract.

    Can you maybe site some sources? A news article?

    A contract is a contract. It is possible that the purchase contract stated that a X% change in the market allows backing out of the contract. Or that the buyers get the "option" at the contractor's discretion. I am guessing that buyer got screwed over by the small print that they did not read.

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @05:03PM (#42576791)

    I agree for stories, movies, etc. But I'm not sure it's a bad thing for corporations to be able to trademark their name, a logo and a limited number of other things to distinguish themselves. If I want an Apple product, I do not want some taiwanese shitshop selling me their "Apple", I want an Apple.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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