x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Marvel wins copyright battle with Spider-Man artist's heirs

The giant comic-book publisher Marvel won a ruling that it owns work produced by the late Jack Kirby.

Don't go believing that superhero battles are solely between the forces of good and evil. Behind the scenes there are fights for justice in the comic world involving far more sinister and powerful figures: US lawyers. KAPOW!

A recent clash saw the might of the big corporation - in this case Marvel - come up against the little man, the late comic book artist and writer Jack Kirby, who died in 1994. KRUNCH!

Marvel took the fight to Kirby's family after they claimed copyright ownership for the work he had done for the company between 1958 and 1963, work that included characters such as Spider-Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and numerous others. His estate had attempted to terminate copyright grants of more than 45 superheroes, many of which have become somewhat lucrative for Marvel. THWACK!

Sadly for Kirby, the judge ruled in favour of the corporation. US District Judge Colleen McMahon delivered the knockout blow when she judged that the artist's work for Marvel was deemed "work for hire" under the Copyright Act of 1909 and was, therefore, Marvel's. She also added that Kirby had signed an agreement in 1972 in which he admitted that he wasn't entitled to retain ownership of his work. KERPLUNK!

But, much like the fiercely fought battles between superheroes, this one doesn't look set to end any time soon. Lawyers representing Kirby's estate have said they intend to appeal against the decision, one telling The Hollywood Reporter: "Sometimes you have to lose in order to win."

You can almost hear Judge Dredd saying that.

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