Update: Correction: The article from Variety referenced seems to have been posted in 2009, and from what I understand, the ruling has NOT been made or enforced yet – but does seem possibly headed that way. I didn’t see a correction at Variety regarding this. Either way, it lists what will go to what side if/when the ruling does come down.
Variety reports that the Krypton origin rights to Superman have been granted to the heirs of Superman creators Siegel and Shuster.
On Wednesday, the judge handling the case ruled that the family had:
“Successfully recaptured” rights to additional works, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic-strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic-books.
The decision was based on the Copyright Act of 1976 and the fact the work was not “works-made-for-hire.”
So just what do they own?
[They] now control depictions of Superman’s origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.
According to Variety, the family also owns, due to a ruling in 2008 about Action Comics #1:
The Superman character, including his costume, his alter-ego as reporter Clark Kent, the feisty reporter Lois Lane, their jobs at the Daily Planet newspaper working for a gruff editor, and the love triangle among Clark/Superman and Lois.
So what is DC/Warner Bros left with?
Superman’s ability to fly, the term kryptonite, the Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen characters, Superman’s powers and expanded origins.
Thats not all, as it is stated the big question is just how much does Warner Bros. owe the family as the rights reverted back in 1999.
I believe this applies to the comic books as Variety notes that Warner Bros. needs to begin production on a new Superman movie (see Man Of Steel by director Zack Snyder) this year. Otherwise, the family can further sue.
Warner Bros, did release the following, “Warner and DC Comics are pleased that the court has affirmed that the vast majority of key elements associated with the Superman character that were developed after Action Comics No. 1 are not part of the copyrights that the plaintiffs have recaptured and therefore remain solely owned by DC Comics.”
What is of further interest, in particular with DC Comics, is they just announced the relaunch of the entire line — including Superman with a new look and rumor of no marriage to Lois Lane.
Writer Geoff Johns even stated he is exploring the human side of the new Justice League he is doing with Jim Lee. With this news, does that mean Superman’s new origin in DC Comics will make him one of us?