Marvel vs. Artist’s Estate: Pre-Trial Wins Sought in Superhero Copyright Battle

May 23, 2023

May 22 (Reuters) – In a copyright dispute over the rights to superheroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, Walt Disney Co.’s DIS.N Marvel and the estate of artist Steve Ditko both asked a federal judge in Manhattan on Friday to grant them a win without waiting for a trial.

Marvel argued that Ditko co-created the characters on behalf of the company and asked the court to reject the estate’s attempt to reclaim his ownership. The estate of Ditko argued that the “dire state of its business” at the time prevented Marvel from hiring him and that he developed his heroes and stories independently.

Monday’s inquiries for clarification were not immediately answered by representatives of Marvel or Ditko’s estate. Ditko passed away in 2018

Under certain conditions, the Copyright Act permits a creator to terminate a copyright assignment after decades. In 2021, Marvel filed a lawsuit against Ditko’s estate and a number of other artists who wrote and illustrated comics in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in response to their attempts to terminate Marvel’s copyrights on characters like Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Thor.

Works created for hire are exempt from the termination law, which Marvel claims prevents the artists from recovering their rights. It argued on Friday that the case record demonstrated that Ditko was “subject to Lee’s editorial discretion” while working for Marvel.

Marvel stated, “Ditko was accorded some creative freedom in the manner in which Lee’s story would manifest on paper, but Lee maintained ultimate control over the pages.”

Wonder contrasted the claim with a comparative case it succeeded at a U.S. requests court in 2013 including artist Jack Kirby. That case was gotten comfortable in 2014 as the U.S. High Court was set to consider whether to take it up.

The estate of Ditko argued that he worked for Marvel as a freelancer.

“Ditko, an incredibly free disapproved of craftsman, managed himself, altered his own work, and made the works after practically no conversation with Lee,” it said.

Additionally, the estate stated that Ditko could not legally have created the works on behalf of Marvel’s “shell companies” that registered the copyrights, which it referred to as the “Achilles’ heel” of Marvel’s work-for-hire argument.

Source – XM

Leave a Comment