A quick follow up to my previous post regarding the ongoing feud between Marvel Comics and one of the fathers of the Marvel Universe Jack Kirby.
The family of the famed artist had been working for years to assert creative rights over key Marvel characters such as Spider Man, the Hulk and Captain America. Infamous lawyer Marc Toberoff even sent cease and desist letters to Sony, Fox and others asserting the family’s intents.
For a long time Marvel was able to beat back these claims, but earlier this year, the Supreme Court, started taking a closer look at copyright claims made by artists. It didn’t help Marvel that the court became flooded with amicus briefs from notable legal minds favorable to the Kirby side.
As the Hollywood Reporter has been reporting, the Court demanded Marvel respond to the request made by the Kirby Family for a hearing. This got the entire artistic community interested including Hollywood guilds who were salivating at the chance to expose and ultimately undo many of the tactics used by studios against their clients. The importance of the SCOTUS giving a ruling had ramification that were beyond the comics industry:
As those supporting Kirby’s drive to the Supreme Court would tell it, the case represented the balance of power between creative contributors on one side and studios who manage production and distribute works on the other. It dealt with how to interpret who is an “employer” under the 1909 Copyright Act — before copyright law got amended — and whether courts should go broad by adopting the “instance and expense” test and fitting all commissioned works under the umbrella, or whether the courts should go narrow, potentially allowing other iconic works like James Bond to be terminated.
Marvel (now Disney) has responded. And now somewhere between the response and today, the Kirby family and Marvel kissed and made up.
“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history,” read a joint statement from Marvel and the Kirby family.
Hmmm. I wonder what they’re hiding….
In other news, Sirius/XM was not as lucky as Marvel. In what is being called a “crushing loss”, a California federal judge declared Flo and Eddie of the Turtles victorious over the satellite company. As HR put it:
…overall, this is a whopping ruling with consequences almost impossible to overstate. In the short term, the ruling will likely be appealed as the plaintiffs eye a trial that will determine the awarding of damages. In the long term, it could compel SiriusXM, Pandora and many in the tech industry to strongly lobby Congress for new copyright laws that cover pre-1972 recordings. The ruling also will — or should — be read closely by other businesses including terrestrial radio operators and bars that publicly perform older music.
SiriusXM is facing another lawsuit from the RIAA in California as well as more lawsuits from Flo & Eddie in other states. Pandora is also facing a lawsuit by record labels in New York. And the ruling potentially opens the floodgates to more litigation on the issue of pre-1972 music.