Saturday, July 11, 2009

Anti-Siegel Superman "fans'" arguments are inaccurate and lame



After my last post, I expected to get some comments. But I didn’t expect them to be quite as lame as this one I got from someone named “Media Monkey Ninja.”:
I agree, the heirs are going to be the "REAL" death of The Mam of Steel. I'm not a huge Superman fan (I'm more of a Batman kinda guy), but The Boyscout is an American icon. If there is no Superman, what character is going to uphold Truth, Justice, and the American way. I'd hate to see this happen to any copyrighted character that is this loved by millions. I say if you work for a company and you create copyrighted material while working at that company. The copyrighted material should be owned by the company. If someone whats to have complete copyright ownership, they should create the character solely by themselves while working solely for themselves. That way no company can lay claim to your copyrighted material.
And this is exactly what I was arguing against — fans whose instincts are completely counter-intuitive to the facts of the case (assuming they know the facts, which this poster does not).

So let’s start from the top and try to explain this to anyone who may be interested in actually understanding what’s going on and have some interest in actually learning something. It’s distressing to get such comments, because I generally think comics fans are smart people. And I’m not saying this because “Mr. Ninja” disagrees with me — but if there’s a good moral and legal case for Warner Bros. to not share proceeds from Superman with the Siegels under the current law, I have yet to hear it. And, “DC may stop publishing the Superman comics I so love” does not qualify because no one with any real knowledge of this case or authority at Warner Bros. or DC has even suggested that would happen.

But let’s get into the details of why this kind of this panicky, selfish, pro-corporate position put forth by “Mr. Ninja” is complete bullshit.

First, let’s review copyright law. The United States Constitution states in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:
The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
What’s key is the “limited Times” element, which has constantly been extended from the original 14-year term with a single 14-year renewal to the current law which establishes copyright for corporate works made for hire at 95 years and individual copyrights at 70 years after the life of the author.

All works eventually fall into the public domain. This is important to society and to education — the works of Shakespeare are public domain more than 400 years after his death. The benefit to society of his work being freely accessible outweighs the interest of whatever distant descendant (and he has none) may have in milking it for all its worth. Most works in the public domain are not well-known, and being free increases the likelihood that they will be used, republished and generally benefit our society.

At the time of the creation of Superman in the mid-1930s, the law stipulated a term of 28 years for copyright that could be renewed for an additional 28 years. Copyright was bestowed automatically upon the creators, which applies directly to Siegel and Shuster. As teens, they created the character of Superman and his world, and spent years trying to get it published before Detective Comics Inc. bought the material to appear in Action Comics #1. By paying Siegel and Shuster the grad total of $10 a page — $130 total for 13 pages of art and story — DC acquired all rights to the material therein. That was a transfer of copyright, from Siegel and Shuster, to Detective Comics Inc., which is distinct from a work made for hire, in which a company hires people to create material for it. Most Golden Age and Silver Age comics qualify as work made for hire. Stan Lee was employed as editor of Timely/Atlas/Marvel when he came up with the typed plot for Fantastic Four #1 and hired Jack Kirby on a freelance basis to draw it. That’s a quintessential example of work for hire.

The original deal between Siegel and Shuster was iron-clad and held up more than once in court — in DC’s favor. The pair tried to reclaim the copyright to the character in the 1940s and were rebuffed by the courts. They tried in the mid-1960s to argue that they had the first right of renewal of copyright, only to have the courts rule that that right had been sold along with all the others in the original transaction. Under that deal, the Superman material in Action Comics #1 would have entered the public domain in 1994 — more than 15 years ago, for the math impaired among you. Each subsequent issue of Action Comics and Superman would have lost its copyright over time and we’d now have all the Superman material from Action #1 through 1953 in the public domain.

But that deal — which I think is quite reasonable and should remain the standard term for copyright — was no good for the corporations that held copyrights to the likes of not just Superman, but Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and countless others. So, enter the copyright act of 1976, which was the most significant revision to the copyright law in the nation’s history. It not only extended copyright terms, but in a rare show of justice adjusted the law to compensate folks who had sold copyrights that, due to the extension, were now more valuable than they were when originally sold. So to make up for the fact that companies like Disney and DC Comics now had decades more to exploit characters they had acquired, a complicated clause was put in that allowed for the original copyright owners to possibly benefit from the longer terms by terminating the transfer of copyright.

So now comes a common complaint from the anti-Siegelites: If they signed over the rights, they signed over the rights and have to live with that mistake no matter what. But this ignores not only what I stated above about the change in the copyright law, but also the entire area of contract law. No matter what kind of contract you sign, it’s subject to copyright law, i.e., you can’t make a contract that contradicts the law. So the revisions to the copyright law that allow that allowed DC to keep the Superman contract beyond the original term, also allow the Siegels to terminate the original transfer. Still, some seem to think that’s unfair — to DC. But anyone who’s ever signed a contract, be it a lease or rental agreement or deal to buy a house or whatever, will come across a clause that states, essentially, that should any clause in a contract be found illegal that the legal elements will still apply. That should indicate to the vast majority of people that contracts are subject to law. You can’t, for example, contract someone to commit an illegal act and then sue them for breach of contract. The contact, despite the fact that both sides agree to it, is not a legal contract.

So what does “Mr. Ninja” mean when he calls Superman an American icon, and says that he hates to see this happen to any copyrighted character beloved by millions? His position, whether he means it or not, is that the corporate right to copyright is absolute and should never be questioned. Which not only runs counter to the Constitution and copyright law, but also the very truth and justice he says the Superman character stands for. Justice, in essence, is another word for fairness — and who can say it’s fair for DC Comics to have exploited the character of Superman for immense profit for more than 70 years, 15 years beyond the original copyright terms, and then not have to honor a part of the law that says the Siegels as the heirs of the original creator deserve to share in those profits?

What’s missing, of course, is the American way, which apparently is to bow to corporate interests at every opportunity and to support DC’s decades-long piss poor treatment of the Siegels, which included all kinds of demeaning treatment, blacklisting and persistent efforts to deny any legal claim they have to the millions — if not billions — of dollars DC has earned from the character in the past seven decades.

The other point “Mr. Ninja” brings up is that if you want control of your copyright, you shouldn’t create it for a company. Ignoring the factual error — Siegel and Shuster created Superman long before they took it to DC and never created it “for” the company or at its behest — the technology of publishing and the business realities of distribution at the time made it near impossible for a pair of newcomers like Siegel and Shuster to publish their idea without going to a comic book publisher or comic strip syndicate. No comic book publisher of the era let any creator keep the rights. And only the most powerful or business-savvy of the comic-strip artists — like Milton Caniff in comic strips or Will Eisner, who kept the rights to The Spirit comic book inserted in newspapers at least in part because he was a good business man and wasn’t the first to demand and get it — were able to retain their copyrights. Siegel and Shuster, proposing an outlandish idea that was completely untested, had no such leverage.

Which brings us to another point, which is that you can’t determine the value of the copyright to an intellectual property before it hits the marketplace. Publishers have always liked to play the odds and use the failure of the bulk of their ideas to justify stealing the ones that do work. But that’s hardly fair and it’s even arguably bad business. Would the Harry Potter books have become the sensation they are now if the publisher had treated J.K. Rowling — now one of the richest women in the United Kingdom, if not the world — even half as badly as DC treated Siegel and Shuster? They certainly would not be as creatively rewarding for the millions of fans who believed in them to preorder and line up to buy each book in the series the moment it was released. But that's not how corporations and the small minds that run them think.

At its core, what trolls like “Mr. Ninja” seem to be most afraid of is change. That the victory the Siegels have already won will somehow change or even end the parade of Superman material from DC Comics and Warner Bros. they have come to love in an almost fetishistic sort of way. Which is the most embarrassing part — because Superman remains a vital and extremely viable commercial property. That DC and Warner Bros. would balk so thoroughly at having to share their profits with the heirs of the creators after more than seven decades of exclusive and extremely profitable exploitation is the height of corporate greed. It’s also eminently excusable, justifiable and even admirable in most circles of American society and, apparently, even among fans for whom the worship of the character through the purchase of stuff is more important than the truth and justice they believe the object of their affection represents

18 comments:

Media Monkey Ninja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian Thal said...

LAst I check with lived in the U.S.A., where you have freedom of speech. Isn't that why you are a journalist? I'm sorry you didn't agree with my comment.

I see your point about how some of the anti-Siegel fans neither understand constitutional nor copyright law. Apparently Mr. Ninja doesn't realize that freedom of speech implicitly includes the freedom to criticize, not freedom from criticism.

Robert Eugene Tevis III said...

I have a big problem with several of your comments:

1. "DC Comics to have exploited the character of Superman for immense profit for more than 70 years."
You must misunderstand what printing companies are supposed to do. They are to "exploit" a character for profit. AND by your own admission, Superman would not be as profitable, nor as popular, if it weren't for DC exploiting him. He wouldn't even had seen print if it weren't for DC. PLUS: you are discounting all the work of MANY MANY creators over the years to make Superman better than even his creators made him. There wasn't "exploitation" as you use the word. There was genuine creativity and freedom of expression. Should the Siegels get all the credit for their work too?

2. "the Siegels as the heirs of the original creator deserve to share in those profits?"
NO! Copyright law should not and does not extend to heirs. The law in 1976 is for original creators' rights to be extended, not heirs. This is the crux of the matter for me.

3. "The technology of publishing and the business realities of distribution at the time made it near impossible for a pair of newcomers like Siegel and Shuster to publish their idea without going to a comic book publisher or comic strip syndicate."
This is either misinformation or a lie. There are always other avenues to get your creation out to the public so that you can make a buck. Sure, it may be more difficult to self-publish, back then, but not impossible. The S & S clan sold Superman to DC for ease. DC rightfully made a profit off of him and even made Superman better.

4. "Superman remains a vital and extremely viable commercial property." This is exactly why the Siegels should not get a dime. It is the efforts of the DC company that have made Superman great since 1976. The Siegels have not done one thing to make an extremely viable commercial property.

5. "That DC and Warner Bros. would balk so thoroughly at having to share their profits with the heirs of the creators after more than seven decades of exclusive and extremely profitable exploitation is the height of corporate greed."
Yup! And no one should get paid for doing nothing, just because their grandfather created something fun and profitable (unless the family owns the damn thing).

Darkknt1047 said...

My opinion lies with Mr. Tevis. The heirs of the Siegel and Schuster estate did not help create or define Superman in any way, and thusly are not entitled to any monetary recompense. I just posted a comment on the earlier story about this case that goes into greater detail. Suffice it to say, the Siegel and Schuster heirs appear to just want money for free.

Tom McLean said...

Mr. Tevis:

1. I don't misunderstand. But I think there was a moral obligation for DC to take care of the Siegels that was ignored for a very long time and when it was addressed it was done in a bare minimum kind of way. None of which matters, since their past treatment makes no difference whatsoever in the law that allows them to terminate the original copyright transfer, which the judge already ruled they have done. As for the many creators who came after them, their situation is completely different from a legal standpoint as that is all work for hire that DC owns outright for a term of 95 years. Does DC have an obligation to those who've contributed significantly to the character since Siegel and Shuster? I would say yes, and some of those folks do get sales incentives and payments for reprints, etc., under the plan DC has had in place since the late 1970s. I don't know how many of the Golden Age and Silver Age creators are still around, but I would hope DC and worthwhile groups like The Hero Initiative would help them out if they were in dire straits. And the Siegels don't get credit or copyright to that work — only to what Jerry and Joe created themselves prior to any sale to DC.


2. Nonsense. The law allows the heirs to terminate the transfer of copyright, and now even the estates of the original creators, as is the case with Shuster. That's the result of the 1976 law and the updates in the 1990s, including the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Law. In Siegel's case, how you can say his wife and daughter, who stood by him and would have benefited from the income he would have received, is beyond me.


3. I'd like to hear an example of anyone from this era doing this. Those opportunities are in abundance today, but the publishing world of the 1930s was radically different and the magazine publishing business was notoriously corrupt and mobbed up. Nobody had scored a breakout hit character directly from comic books (not strips, which were much more prestigious) until Superman, so there no precedent for how to financially handle a successful character in that medium. The few instances I'm aware of from that era of creators going it alone were disastrous failures. Kirby and Simon gave it a go in the 1950s with Mainline and even their savvy couldn't make a go of it. The only comic book creator I know of from that era who retained any rights from the publisher was Eisner on The Spirit, which was a one-of-a-kind, never repeated syndicate deal with newspapers. Eisner didn't have to handle the printing or deal with the distribution business, so it's not at all comparable to the self-publishing or Image-style options that the direct market has made viable since the mid 1970s.


4. Except create it. Superman — likely the entire superhero genre and comic book business as we know it today — would not exist without their work. DC would have had nothing to exploit without them and likely would have gone out of business decades ago without Superman.


5. The law says otherwise, and the inequities of the previous law was what lead to the 1976 revision. So does a basic sense of right and wrong. I'm astounded that your Blogger profile and blog indicate you're a preacher! I'm not a religious person, but I'm pretty sure the message of Jesus was most emphatically not "no one should get paid for doing nothing" ... "unless the family owns the damn thing." From this I can only deduce that you have no problem with the family of the heirs in profiting from a creator's work, only that the law allows the Siegels to reclaim that work decades later. So do you think it's OK for DC to benefit from changes to the copyright law that allow them to hold the copyright to Action #1 long after the original terms of their deal with Siegel and Shuster? Because I think if you give one side a tremendous benefit like that it's only fair that the other party have a chance to share in those benefits — which is exactly what's happening.

Patrick Lemaire said...

When the period was at 14 years, anyone could expect to still be alive to benefit from his idea if it had proven succesful but with the changes of the law which put it at 70 years, the creator is fucked. The only chance to benefit from one's idea is to create it while very young and hope to live long enough to become a centenarian. Basically the extension fucked up creators and the clause to extend teh right to the heirs was a token balance to an horrible corporate injustice. What I think the Siegel-haters don't get is that without Superman, DC would have disappeared long ago like most companies from that time. DC owes its continued existence to the work of Siegel and Shuster.

Robert Eugene Tevis III said...

Mr. McLean,

First, the reason I responded is usually I like your blog, but on this issue, I think you are way off.

You are painting a picture that DC Comics are evil, just because they are a corporation.

We agree on some major points:

You are right that there is a moral obligation to pay creators what they are owed, but I do not want to be in a society that FORCES for-profit companies into compassion. I understand that Shuster was eventually happy with what DC paid him in the end.

"I would hope DC and worthwhile groups like The Hero Initiative would help them out..."
I agree, but that ain't gonna happen. AND what you have to realize that is that the Siegel case is hurting the cause in the public eye of these creators who deserve more. These creators worked their tales off while people who did not do a thing are after DC's money.

"likely the entire superhero genre and comic book business as we know it today — would not exist without their work."
I agree with you when you say "as we know it". It would be a different looking animal all together without Superman.

Robert Eugene Tevis III said...

Mr. McLean,

We disagree here:

"The law allows the heirs to terminate the transfer of copyright."
This is news to me and seems untrue. If it is true, then I take back everything I have said. If true, the law needs to change to become more common sense and creator oriented. I hope the Siegel's can get all the pennies they can.

"I'd like to hear an example of anyone from this era doing this."
I am not a Comic Book Historian - I can't give you an example. If you asked me a question about Wally West, I would be able to help you. And here is the thing: Shuster & Siegel did not want to self-publish. They tried it and failed. They wanted a big company behind them to get their creation out there. In doing so, they lost rights. Fair or unfair, it is the way it is.

"DC would have had nothing to exploit without them and likely would have gone out of business decades ago without Superman."
How can you know such an outlandish statement? How can you not say that a "Superman" would not have been created knowing the zeitgiest of the times?

"I'm astounded that your Blogger profile and blog indicate you're a preacher! I'm not a religious person, but I'm pretty sure the message of Jesus was most emphatically not "no one should get paid for doing nothing" ... "unless the family owns the damn thing.""
Are you astounded that a preacher disagrees with you or that I used the word "damn"? Sorry if I offended you with that word, but anything that is going to cause this much pain deserves the adjective. I understand that I am not a Seigel nor a lawyer, but the Bible does teach the following: 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 - "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living."

The Bible also commands that if a person cannot work, then we are morally obligated to take care of them: Matthew 25:35-37 - "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

The problem I have again is this: the Siegel heirs have not done ANYTHING to make Superman what it is today. Superman is not even the same character that he was in Action Comics #1. He doesn't even look the same, just has the same name. That is like saying Jaime Reyes is the same character as Ted Kord, both Blue Beetles.

"So do you think it's OK for DC to benefit from changes to the copyright law that allow them to hold the copyright to Action #1 long after the original terms of their deal with Siegel and Shuster?"
Nope, I think that this stuff should be grandfathered in and the original intents and laws should stick. Unfortunately we live in a society where major coorporations can buy policy (such as Disney and DC Comics). I understand that Superman would be public property by now, but DC would still hold the Trademark. Is that right?

TonyJazzz said...

I also agree with Tevis' response.

But, in a slightly different vein, what the Seigels are attempting to do is not morally supportable (whether or not legally supportable).

Most of us who work for companies know that we relinquish the rights to our work when under being paid. I'm in programming, and I would have no rights (no matter what I created at work) when I am working for this company. Siegel and Shuster were in the same situation.

Robert Eugene Tevis III said...

By the way, I am not a Siegel-hater, or anti-Siegel. That is just argument causing jargon that needs to leave the conversation.

I don't even know them!

Free Rider said...

Darkknt1047 said...

"My opinion lies with Mr. Tevis. The heirs of the Siegel and Schuster estate did not help create or define Superman in any way, and thusly are not entitled to any monetary recompense."

And so, what, the corporate entity that is Warner Brothers did? There's nobody working there today that was even alive when Superman was created, and the character was defined long ago, so they can't take credit for that. Based upon your definition of compensation, how are they entitled?

And please learn how to spell Shuster. It's not that hard to spell, and it shows that you don't pay attention to detail, which is probably why your argument is seriously flawed.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed by the defending of DC for the really bad business practices they enforced in the first half of the 20th Century. The case of Superman is very simple: IT SHOULD BE ALREADY IN PUBLIC DOMAIN.

The corporation that owns the rights, DC/WB, hasn't been able to create anything new for the character in ages, to the point that nearly all the non-S&S created characters are never kept in the several adaptations to the other media.

So, seriously, start giving the character away so that everyone can do whatever they want with it. It can't be worse than the Death of Superman.

Anonymous said...

i guess since my great grand mother on both sides of my family were Natives that means I own part of the Land your so freely taking advantage of.

You should never approach an article like this with your mind already made up as to which side you agree with. As someone else stated if it werent for DC we wouldnt even have heard of Superman today.

Tom McLean said...

Sorry I’ve been away. Work, and all. But there’s a few last things to say in this conversation with Mr. Tevis, who writes: “You are painting a picture that DC Comics are evil, just because they are a corporation.”

I wouldn’t put it that way, though a couple of your own responses after this about what we can expect of DC’s behavior on this don’t do much to paint them in a positive light.


Tevis: "You are right that there is a moral obligation to pay creators what they are owed, but I do not want to be in a society that FORCES for-profit companies into compassion. I understand that Shuster was eventually happy with what DC paid him in the end.”

Me: Isn’t forcing companies into doing the right thing, historically, the only way to really change their behavior? Don’t we owe the labor movement and the government for things like minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety regulations and laws prohibiting child labor? Those are all issues of fairness that businesses resisted and would never have implemented without the issue being forced on them. And I don’t know for sure about Shuster, but it’s pretty clear that Jerry Siegel wanted his family to continue this case without him.

I said: "I would hope DC and worthwhile groups like The Hero Initiative would help them out..." And you replied: “I agree, but that ain't gonna happen. AND what you have to realize that is that the Siegel case is hurting the cause in the public eye of these creators who deserve more. These creators worked their tales off while people who did not do a thing are after DC's money.”

Which creators are you talking about? Deserve more? I don’t understand who you’re referring to, or who deserves more credit for Superman than the guys who created him? Also, there’s your first comment not painting DC in the best light, ether.

On the issue of copyright law, here’s a link to the federal statue on termination and which heirs are allowed to do so: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html#203

When you say Siegel and Shuster tried self-publishing, I think what you’re referring to was their early fanzine, which isn’t the same as self-publishing a periodical to compete with other professional publications.

Another exchange — me: "DC would have had nothing to exploit without them and likely would have gone out of business decades ago without Superman." Then you: “How can you know such an outlandish statement? How can you not say that a "Superman" would not have been created knowing the zeitgiest of the times?”

I’m speculating here and said as much. Of the dozens of comic book publishers that were around in the 1930s and 1940s, only Marvel and Archie remain besides DC. Archie does its own thing, but without the superhero genre that Siegel and Shuster initiated with Superman — which became the defining genre of the medium — DC’s survival to now without all the money Superman (and the superheroes that followed) brought in through radio shows, cartoons, serials and merchandise is very much in doubt.

More in the next comment as I have to break it up ...

Tom McLean said...

You: Are you astounded that a preacher disagrees with you or that I used the word "damn"? Sorry if I offended you with that word, but anything that is going to cause this much pain deserves the adjective. I understand that I am not a Seigel nor a lawyer, but the Bible does teach the following: 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 - "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." The Bible also commands that if a person cannot work, then we are morally obligated to take care of them: Matthew 25:35-37 - "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

Me: I don’t care about “bad” language. In fact, I rather like to swear. Swear away and I’ll try to top it.

The problem with the Bible is you can find a quote to justify almost anything. I don’t think “no one should get paid for doing nothing” is quite the same as what you quoted here. And you might want to look into some of the history of the Siegels before you start making comments about how they want to “get paid for doing nothing” or have not done anything to make Superman what it is today. Joanne Siegel, Joe’s widow and one of the plaintiffs in this case, has long been known as the visual inspiration for the original Lois Lane.

The legal perspective in this country has always been that assets and benefits can be passed to spouses and oftentimes heirs. By your reasoning, a woman who was a homemaker would not be entitled to continue to receive her husband’s retirement benefit after he’s died because it wasn’t her doing the work.

Also, it’s one thing to say everyone should “earn their own living,” but for many years Siegel and Shuster were, despite their efforts, unable to find work in comics. They were blacklisted at DC and, for various reasons, had a hard time finding other work. Shuster’s eyesight was bad and deteriorated rather quickly as a young man to the point where he could not work as an artist. Both did find work — often menial jobs, as clerks or delivery men. None of which seemed like a just reward for having created a character as popular as Superman and trying to speak up about inequities in their treatment by DC in the 1930s and ‘40s. Siegel’s daughter, by the way, has a successful career of her own — I think as a TV producer.

Tevis: The problem I have again is this: the Siegel heirs have not done ANYTHING to make Superman what it is today. Superman is not even the same character that he was in Action Comics #1. He doesn't even look the same, just has the same name. That is like saying Jaime Reyes is the same character as Ted Kord, both Blue Beetles.

Me: Well, except that both today’s Superman and the Superman of Action #1 are both Clark Kent, both wear basically the same costume, both originate from the planet Krypton, both are invulnerable and super strong and both have a love interest in a fellow reporter named Lois Lane.

One more comment ...

Tom McLean said...

Tevis: Nope, I think that this stuff should be grandfathered in and the original intents and laws should stick. Unfortunately we live in a society where major coorporations can buy policy (such as Disney and DC Comics). I understand that Superman would be public property by now, but DC would still hold the Trademark. Is that right?

Not exactly public property, but each issue of the comic would enter the public domain at 56 years after publication. DC would still own the trademark, which is a different animal altogether from copyright. But the general public would be able to reprint and reuse the art and story from each Superman story that enters the public domain. I get your point about the grandfathering in, but the whole impetus behind these revisions to copyright was for corporations like Disney and Time Warner to prevent the copyrights on things like Mickey Mouse cartoons from expiring. The law is what it is, and right now it favors the Siegels. It’s interesting that the way the law is written, that the Siegels’ share of the copyright (and Shusters’, if his estate is successful) will last much longer than DC’s work-for-hire material. For individuals, the terms is 70 years past the life of the author, which would be 2063 for Shuster and 2066 for Siegel. Corporate work-for-hire copyrights last 95 years, so no matter what, the DC material will start entering public domain in 2033.

Tom McLean said...

And for TonyJazzz:

Actually, no. What you’re doing is called work-for-hire. Siegel and Shuster are reclaiming the copyright to material they created on their own, and not at the behest of any company or person, so they have a right to it.

I don't know much about programming, but there are right to be held (Bill Gates didn't get rich by selling material he didn't own) and surely there are instances of programmers retaining rights to their work.

Cindy Dy said...

It's enjoyable to learn more and more from your blog. Thanks for sharing.

www.gofastek.com