Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'll Sue The Tights Off Of You!!!

Lawsuits seem to be flowing out into the path of comic book companies in the last few years. One of the more memorable and controversial lawsuits dealt with the Siegel family fighting for ownership over DC's Man of Steel. But “Super” lawsuits have stemmed as far back as the early 60's where people like Stan Lee had to deal with claims of copyright infringement, and the government creating the "Comics Code Authority" that regulated the content found within comics for so many years. But now, more than ever creators and writers have been putting their foot down in the recently splurge of comic book films that have taken the Hollywood by storm.

Some of the more popularly known lawsuits have already taken place; the most well know being the Siegel battle over Superman and the rights to what was published in Action Comics. The outcome of that lawsuit was in favor of Warner Bros. provided a new film be in the works before 2011. But with the Kirby Estate duking it out in a Hulk-Sized battle, Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlene going head to head, and the hit TV show "Heroes" trying to defend their "non-infringement" claim, Comics have been taking hit after hit by Creator families and creators themselves who want more respect than what has been given to them.

The most recent suit deals with Marvel Comics' "Ghost Rider" and its creator, Gary Friedrich. Friedrich, who claims film rights were diverted to him in 2001, sued Marvel for the making a film that didn't meet the standards of his original plan for the character. The case was dismissed in Marvel's favor. But now, with new found evidence by Friedrich's lawyer, and Disney now having sole ownership of the company, Marvel now faces the courts again over the same issue.

Friedrich's lawyer, Charles S. Kramer claims that, "Gary's case was originally filed asserting claims under both federal and state law...The court's ruling was only that this is a question of federal law only, under the federal copyright law, and that the case should thus proceed only on the federal law issues. [...] The federal copyright claim was always the main part of our case, and this is really more of a procedural ruling than anything else."

Overall, it seems there was confusion on Marvel's part as to what they could and could not do as far as a film was concerned.

While I understand the frustration these comic creators have for mistreatment or misuse of their characters, I wonder why these creators work and contract themselves under an established comic book companies if they know that ownership will be taken away and rights of distribution divert to the companies. Alan Moore, as much as he hates what Warner bros. has done with Watchmen, From Hell, V for Vendetta, and LXG, still understood that DC Comics owns the right to these ideas and accepts it. He may complain about it relentlessly, but he has not tried to take legal action against WB for doing exactly what their contract states.

Speaking of lawsuits, Check out the lawsuit that Batboy is bringing against Batman. 

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