Marvel Entertainment won an important summary judgement against the family of the late Jack Kirby: Judge Colleen McMahon denied the family any claim to the copyrights for the characters or comics Kirby co-created when working at Marvel. Kiel Phegley and Andy Khouri report on the judgement. Rich Johnston has a copy of the full ruling.
"At the outset, it is important to state what this motion is not about. Contrary to recent press accounts... 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 the fruit of their labor. It is about whether Kirby's work qualifies as work-for-hire under the Copyright Act of 1909, as interpreted by the courts, notably the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. If it does, then Marvel owns the copyright in the Kirby Works, whether that is 'fair' or not. If it does not, then the Kirby Heirs have a statutory right to take back those copyrights, no matter the impact on recent corporate acquisition or on earnings from blockbuster movies made and yet to be made.
I conclude that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and that the Kirby Works were indeed works for hire within the meaning of the Copyright Act of 1909. Therefore the section 304(c) Termination Notices did not operate to convey any federally-protected copyrights in the Kirby Works or the Kirby Heirs. Marvel's motion for summary judgment is granted. The Kirby Heirs cross motion is denied."Responses from Tom Spurgeon, Matthias Wivel, Jeff Trexler (via Heidi McDonald), Colleen Doran, Steve Bissette (via Tom Spurgeon and Rich Johnston), Michael Dean, Christopher Allen, followup by Matthias Wivel,
Kirby family lawyer Marc Toberoff, who also represents the Siegel family in their fight over the Superman copyrights with DC Entertainment, vows to appeal the decision.
The furor over Dan Didio's infamous answer to the question on DC's measly practice on the hiring of female creators for their relaunch only increased when a recording of it was put on the web. Tom Spurgeon commented "I'm not sure I thought this possible, but the full response somehow manages to be more ludicrous that its panel-report description." Heidi McDonald, who was in attendance, posted "Is it SO HARD (emphasis hers) for Dan DiDio to say “We are trying to get more women involved...” The controversy prompted Laura Hudson to write a long response. Her conclusion:
"To answer Dan DiDio's question: There are many, many very talented women working in the industry who could infuse something very valuable into DC Comics, at a time when they probably need it the most. As a female fan, I desperately wish he would consider their aesthetics and contributions to the industry as viable options for the superhero books I want to read so badly but feel so chronically alienated by, something that honestly breaks my heart on a regular basis..."DC took the unusual step to directly address fan concerns on their official blog, adopting a conciliatory attitude: "We Hear You." This seems to have placated some of the critics, according to JK Parkin, Laura Hudson, David Brothers.
A. Nathaniel Ommus on navel-gazing in comics.
Ryan Holmberg on Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s Black Rainbow.
RC Harvey: John Goldwater, the Comics Code Authority, and Archie.
Chris Mautner on Jack Cole.