Jack Kirby’s Family Sues Marvel

Jack KirbyIt would seem the children of legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby want some of that four billion dollars that changed hands between Marvel and Disney a few weeks back. Earlier this week, The Kirby estate issued 45 notices of termination of copyright against Marvel.  If acted on, it means Marvel could lose control of characters such as The Silver Surfer, Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and Thor (to name just a few).  Of course, Marvel would seemingly never let such a pantheon of characters go so this could end up turning into a windfall for the Kirby kids in the way of royalties.

It’s hard not to compare this case with the ongoing actions between Warner Brothers (specifically DC Comics/Entertainment) and the estate of Superman creator Jerry Siegel.  Siegel’s family is seeking to regain the rights to Superman from DC.   Actually, the connection is closer then you may think.  You see, the law firm representing the Siegel family, LA-based Toberoff and Associates, is the same one acting on behalf of the Kirby family.

The timing of the Kirby case is certainly beneficial to the family.  While Marvel alone had pretty deep pockets to seek compensation from, Disney’s are even deeper.  Interestingly, however, this could prove to work against them as the House of Mouse has a large enough war chest to keep this legal battle going for a very long time; which is how long this may take to resolve as the termination notices would not take effect for about another ten years (when the current copyrights expire).  Regardless, we’ll keep watching these cases as they could set some interesting precedence in copyright law and rights for content creators in the future.

  • Update: Kirby Family Responds to Marvel Lawsuit | LegalFish: The Daily Tackle
    January 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    […] Many are happy to be swept away in the world of books, movies, and comics without consideration for the invisible strings of copyright, trademark, design rights, and all that other intellectual property jazz. But laws do exist to protect the creations of artists, and they are often very complicated. For background on how the dispute started and how it hearkens back to another case involving Warner Brothers and Superman creator Jerry Siegel, read this Flickcast report. […]

  • Richard
    November 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Do you know that the late Jack Kirby’s family should recieve..all
    that is afforded them..Mr. Kirby was “Thor,every member of the
    Fantastic Four,he was The Silver Surfer..SEEN IN TALES TO ASTONISH
    TALES OF SUSPENSE,JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY…
    He was The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers” to boot! The same goes
    for Jerome Siegel…He put himself into the character of Superman
    seen in ACTION COMICS,BRAVE AND BOLD,ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN,JUSTICE
    LEAUGE OF AMERICA

    MARVEL…DC..DISNEY..DO THE CORRECT THING…BECAUSE IT BELONGS
    TO THEM..

  • JABOOTU the bad movie dimension » Blog Archive » Stuff to chew on this weekend: Kirby family sues Marvel…
    September 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

    […] In sum, the family of artist Jack “The King” Kirby, the co-creator with Stan Lee of near… […]

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