With Warner Brothers and DC Comics set to lose at least some of the rights to their flagship character, the battle for Superman rages on. A few months back, DC’s case took a step forward when a judge ruled that previously confidential documents were to be made public for use in the case. Those documents detailed an alleged deal between the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and a company called Pacific Pictures which was owned by Marc Toberoff… the lawyer working with the Siegels and Shusters to get the rights from WB. How’s that for unethical?
Now a new fold in the case has risen as Dany Best reports that DC has filed a new appeal claiming that they have documents proving that they purchased 50% of the rights to Superman from the Shusters for $600,000 and that said monies have already been paid to Shuster’s late brother and surviving sister.
DC’s key point is summed up in the following statement from their claim:
In exchange for more than $600,000 and other benefits, Jean Peavy—the sole beneficiary of Shuster’s estate—entered into a 1992 agreement with DC that rescinded all of Shuster’s prior copyright grants and re-granted to DC any copyright interests that Shuster or his heirs may have held. This agreement eliminated any pre-1978 copyright grant that might otherwise be subject to termination under the Copyright Act.
If WB and DC win this new appeal, then they will officially own the 50% property rights to the character which will stop the rights from fully reverting in 2013. Of course, the Siegel family will still own the other 50%. What that will mean is that DC can’t use Superman without dealing with the Siegels and vice versa. Since I’m pretty sure that the Siegels won’t be able to afford to buy licensing from DC, it’s looking more and more like DC might be able to get them to part with the other 50% of the character.
Of course, Best does give a third option besides one partner selling to the other… the Siegels could sell their 50% to someone else and leave DC holding a useless property. Imagine what a clusterfrak it would be if someone like Marvel/Disney purchased 50% of Superman while DC held the rest. Our beloved character would essentially disappear overnight and that’s a really depressing thought.