Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 22, 2013

Kirby Family Re-Hearing Petition Denied By Appeals Court

imageDominic Patten at Deadline is where I saw yesterday afternoon's story that the Jack Kirby Estate had their most recent petition denied in their ongoing attempt to assert rights to the characters either created or co-created by the late cartoonist during the fertile early 1960s run at Marvel. A significant number of those characters have become the foundation for the movies and licensing that have made Marvel a multibillion dollar entertainment giant and a key part of the wider Disney empire. As the article describes, the issuance was brief and to the point, and reaffirms a 2011 ruling in Marvel's favor. The article also notes that this latest ruling comes in the context of similar setbacks for the Siegel and Shuster families in their attempt to secure portions of the Superman copyright, and marks yet another loss for the lawyer behind both efforts, Marc Toberoff.

I've written about this series of legal moves a bunch now. As I've mentioned in some of those posts, I've never looked at legal outcomes as automatically representative of justice being done, even when they work in the direction of my preferred outcome. Establishing the legality of a specific situation can be the engine for a change in policy, but it's not the only way things get done. I don't think the world has to be seen in terms of a limited reward to be carved up by those with the greatest ability to do, enabled by legal circumstance or even restrained by how those strictures somehow bind extreme, uncontrollable impulse. I think these are ultimately decisions made by human beings and that there are multiple ways to get to the same place. So I continue to see this as there being a chance, no matter how unlikely, for Marvel to do better by their key creators, starting with Kirby. That also means I don't think the heartbreak of this has to be seen as a series of unrelenting atrocities to make us sad or wish for a better outcome. I think of it more as a perpetual lost opportunity, with all sorts of creative possibilities for anyone that wants to move in that direction. Nothing is off the table when it comes to comics.
posted 9:00 pm PST | Permalink

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