In what could be a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for the comics and entertainment industry, a federal judge Wednesday ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel — who 70 years ago sold the rights to Superman, which he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130 — were entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the character.
The ruling left intact Time Warner's international rights to the character, which it has long owned through its DC Comics unit. And it reserved for trial questions over how much the company may owe the Siegel heirs for use of the character since 1999, when their ownership is deemed to have been restored.
The linked New York Times article has details on the ruling, which raises several interesting questions: how will the usage of Superman change under the character's co-ownership? Will the Seigel estate begin licensing the character to other publishers (Marvel Presents: Superman, anyone)? What does this mean for Batman and Wonder Woman? And what about the 2000+ characters that Marvel (who may also be impacted by the ruling) claims in its library of intellectual property?