Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Judge Rules in Favor of Marvel Comics

Xmen In 2009, heirs of the late comic book artist Jack Kirby filed forty-five notices of copyright termination against comic book publisher Marvel Worldwide in an attempt to regain the rights to characters Kirby created in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Kirby’s heirs argued the characters were Kirby’s creations, and Marvel claimed the characters created by Kirby constituted “work for hire.”

Judge Colleen McMahon, a New York federal judge, recently ruled that the rights to Kirby’s creations belong to Marvel Worldwide. Judge McMahon stated, “This case is not about whether Jack Kirby or Stan Lee is the real 'creator' of Marvel characters, or whether Kirby (and other freelance artists [who] created culturally iconic comic book characters for Marvel and other publishers) were treated 'fairly' by companies that grew rich off their labor. It is about whether Kirby's work qualifies as work for hire under the Copyright Act of 1909."

The attorney representing Kirby’s heirs intends to appeal the ruling.

See Judge rules in favor of Marvel in suit brought by Jack Kirby’s heirs, Los Angeles Times, Jul. 28, 2011.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Ann Murphy (Associate Professor of Law, Gonzaga University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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