Kirby Heirs Sue Marvel
The heirs of comic book legend Jack Kirby are suing Marvel to terminate copyrights that Marvel claim over a number of the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby, as well as recover profits for their exploitation. Jack Kirby’s creations and co-creations include Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Ant Man, Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Silver Surfer and so many more.
The lawsuit followed 45 notices termination notices last September. Marvel counter-sued claiming claiming that Jack Kirby’s work for Marvel as as a freelance agent.
The complaint seeks declaratory relief, including copyright termination and profits. It describes the backstory of Kirby’s creative period, particularly from 1958 to 1963, when Marvel existed in a tiny office with few employees and relied upon “freelancers to which they had little or no obligation.” Kirby disputes Marvel’s work-for-hire theory.
“With respect to Co-Owned Kirby Works, as of the respective Termination Dates, Defendants will jointly own the copyrights to such works for their renewal terms: both Plaintiffs and Defendants will have the non-exclusive right to exploit such jointly owned copyrights…”
That’s a possibility of two Fantastic Fours!
Also under the Lanham Act, the Kirby estate claims Jack Kirby wasn’t given his proper recognition of his contribution in recent movies The Incredible Hulk and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
It’s estimated the estate could be owed tens of millions of dollars. You can read a full copy of the complaint at http://reporter.blogs.com/files/cacd-03109783637.pdf.