Court Sides With Warner Bros. In Blockbuster Case Against 'Superman' Heirs' Rights To Character

supermanChristopher Reeves as Superman.

Photo: Warner Bros. screencap

Superman will stay with DC Comics. After an ongoing legal feud between the comic owner Warner Bros. and the living heirs of the Man of Steel’s co-creators to reclaim copyright to the character, U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II found the heirs signed away their rights back in 1992. 

The heirs of Joe Shuster, who first illustrated Superman, attempted to terminate the contract made 20 years ago under a provision that allowed creators to reclaim rights to properties made before 1978. 

However, Wright found that because Shuster’s sister Jean Peavy made a new agreement in ’92 to accept higher annual payments of $25,000 (up from $5,000) from Warner Bros. per year voiding any right to copyright claim.  

Under the agreement made October 2, 1992, DC claimed it would cover Shuster’s debts and pay Peavy $25,000 a year for the rest of her life. In return, any of Shuster’s rights to the character would be turned over to DC, and Peavy could never claim a right to Superman again. 

From the ruling:  

“In sum, the Court finds that the 1992 Agreement, which represented the Shuster heirs’ opportunity to renegotiate the prior grants of Joe Shuster’s copyrights, superseded and replaced all prior grants of the Superman copyrights.”

Warner Bros. will be releasing a new Superman reboot, “Man of Steel,” June 14, 2013.

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