Friday, April 07, 2006

Superboy's Super-Lawsuit

Well the news hit the blogosphere in a trickle and it's now a flood. Lots of people at sites all over the web are talking about the Superboy lawsuit, and as Tom Spurgeon said, "A story like this is newswire crack".

Note: some of these links may contain spoilers to Infinite Crisis 6, so proceed at your own risk.

First, read the Variety article that "broke" the news, or at least, started this week's worldwide interest.

In a nutshell, a judge upheld a ruling that said the heirs of Jerry Siegel own the rights to Superboy (young Clark Kent in the super-suit). Siegel won the rights back in a 1947 trial and sold the rights to National (DC) in 1948. According to then-current copyright law, the rights were to revert 28 years later (1976), but in 1976 Congress updated the laws for another 28 years (which would be 2004) and gave the rights holders the opportunity to get them back at the end of the 56 years. That's what the Siegels did in 2004, and the judge ruled that since DC bought the rights in 1948, that very fact acknowledged that the Superboy rights belonged to the Siegels. It's likely that the Siegels and DC/Time Warner will come to some agreement at some point, but who knows when and what the details might be. Until then, the appearance of Superboy for the forseeable future is unclear.

So what about Superboy and the Legion, in the comics and on TV? Warner Brothers animation is proceeding with the animated series, which at this point still includes Superboy. Who knows if he'll stay in or be written out. The fact that the series is continuing in production suggests that no one is willing to pull the plug on it before it airs.

  • Bill at the Trusty Plinko Stick asks about the Legion Archives:
    But there’s a question I have about how this all affects me personally.

    Because it’s all about me, you see.

    What I want to know is, what effect does this have on the publishing rights to pre-existing Superboy-related material, such as the Legion of Super-Heroes Archives series that I’ve only recently started collecting in the last year or two and currently only own the first 3 volumes of (with the fourth on the way thanks to eBay)? If this decision stands, and the Siegels don’t cut some sort of licensing deal with the Time-Warner suits, will these, and anything else that happens to reprint a Superboy appearance, have to go out of print? Because that would make me rather unhappy.

  • More discussion on the ToonZone message board includes this:
    They (LOSH/WBA) aren't in developement. They are well into production. Changing Superboy into Supergirl would be disasterously expensive. No, check that - impossible. I could see the whole shebang shut down before spending truckloads of cash on 'fixing' multiple episodes, some of which have to have shipped if it's going to hit KidsWB and/or Cartoon Network in the fall.

Some of the better discussion of the Super-Suit in general in the blogosphere and comics journalist forums can be found at:
  • Absorbascon, where the commenters are discussing the need (or not) for a Superboy: "Is the concept of "Superboy" inherently ... flawed?"

  • The Beat, which notes that
    It's of some note that this story has ben kept exceedingly quiet, unlike other, less meritorious claims for copyright by older comics creators. It's widely believed that negotiations have ben ongoing between the Siegel heirs and DC Comics execs who have been supportive of Superman creators Siegel and Joe Shuster in the past.

  • Brian Cronin at CBR writes
    [Judge] Lew made it clear that, in his opinion, the television program "Smallville" (since that date) is infringing upon the copyright of the Siegels. However, Lew did not make a ruling on the "Smallville" issue, leaving it to be determined at a copyright infringement trial. The "Smallville" claim will go towards one simple decision - is "Smallville" a TV show about Superboy, or is it a show about a young Clark Kent?

  • The Comics Reporter remarks on the story:
    The story has already moved through some of the usual suspects, and hit newspapers closer to the International Dateline than the U.S. is:
    Comic Book Resources
    Malaysia Star

    That should go up to three figures by lunchtime. A story like this is newswire crack.

  • Tom Spurgeon introduces Mark Evanier's unique insights into the controversy:
    Comics historian and writer Mark Evanier has written a few concises posts about the heirs to Jerry Siegel having their claim to Superboy being upheld, and the potential that they may be due monies from the Smallville TV show. Start here, then read here and then go here. It's interesting reading because Mark writes with a lot of clarity and certainly has big-time comics-history chops, and as you'll see he still has to be careful how he characterizes certain elements of the historical development of the case. It's that weird.

  • E! Online has a good story, written in a very easy-to-understand way, and quotes Supermanhomepage, Neal Adams, and Mark Evanier.

And of course, everyone is commenting on how this may relate to the ending of Infinite Crisis 6 (or not).

1 comment:

viagra online said...

a new concept is maybe that need this comic, to refresh a character nothing is better to change or upgrade they suit, specially if we are talking about a character like superman.