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Up, Up & Away – Superman Copyright Saga Winds Down
Image taken by Keven Law, Los Angeles, CA and under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, Wikimedia Commons.
In the long-running Superman litigation, the Ninth Circuit has addressed large parts of the dispute.
After years of litigation, the federalcourt is starting to address portions of the dispute over who owns the Man of Steel. Recently, the Ninth Circuit held that an October 19, 2001 letter from the heirs’ lawyer did in fact as a matter of law constitute an acceptance of terms negotiated between the parties and thus formed a binding contract as to rights being transferred to Warner Bros. over Superman. The result is that the letter’s terms over what the heirs would receive in return for Warner Bros.’s continued right to exploit the character. The balance of the case may become moot in light of this determination, and the case has been sent back to the trial court to assess that question.
This is a massive federal decision in favor of the publishing companies and against the authors and their heirs, and it paves the way for Warner Bros’ to release the anticipated Summer 2013 movie franchise reboot of Superman.
The Ninth Circuit decision of January 10, 2013, is unpublished and the panel included Judges Reinhardt, Thomas and District Judge Sedwick from Alaska.