Heirs of Comic Book Creator Seek to Recapture Copyrights
By LAUREN A.E. SCHUKER
SEPTEMBER 21, 2009
The heirs of late comic-book creator Jack Kirby served 45 copyright-termination notices to Marvel Entertainment Inc., Walt Disney Co. and other Hollywood studios relating to comic-book characters and stories created by Mr. Kirby, including "X-Men" and "The Fantastic Four."
Mr. Kirby's four children are seeking to recapture as early as 2014 copyrights to characters he created. Those creations and co-creations are currently owned by Marvel. But if the heirs gain control of the copyrights, they could license them without Marvel's permission, or at least secure a share of the profits generated by those characters.
The heirs served the notices under the auspices of the U.S. Copyright Act, which permits authors and their heirs to terminate old copyright grants after a long waiting period, allowing them to recapture the rights for their own use.
A spokeswoman for Disney said: "The notices involved are an attempt to terminate rights seven to 10 years from now and involve claims fully considered in the acquisition."
Disney last month agreed to acquire Marvel for $4 billion.
In a federal court lawsuit that hasn't been fully resolved, the heirs of "Superman" co-creator Jerry Siegel recently recaptured limited rights relating to the original "Superman" from Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
—Ethan Smith contributed to this article.
Write to Lauren A.E. Schuker at firstname.lastname@example.org