Marvel Seek to Shut Down Supreme Court Review of Jack Kirby’s Claim to Copyright

(also Thor is a woman now)

Jack Kirby, who was part of the creative team for many of Marvel’s most famed franchises including Fantastic Four, Avengers, and X-Men, signed a series of contracts and documents handed him to Marvel throughout his life. These contracts were to make sure that any copyright claim made by him over the franchise and branding would subsequently clearly be held as non-existent. As far as the law was concerned, these contracts stipulated that he did some work-for-hire which he shouldn’t see royalties for.

Ever since, his descendants have been locked in various court battles to try and reverse that.

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And later this year, the case will reach the highest branch of the American legal system, as it seeks review by the Supreme Court. The Court only receive a small number of cases every year, so there’s every chance that they’ll throw the Kirby copyright claim out – they have grounds to do so if they chose, as Marvel made clear this week. 

In their claim to have the case dismissed before it reached the attention of the Court, they stated that none of the preconditions required by the Court were present in the Kirby estate’s claim – there is  “no circuit split, no judicial taking, no due process violation, and no grave matter of separation of powers”… whatever those mean. Legally, the Court would be fine if they decided to dismiss it before it reaches the members for review.

The Kirby Estate recently found some high-powered backers for their case, which has been going on for decades and decades now. The power of their allies may well help them power into the Supreme Court, in which case we’d all be present for  the biggest news story in possibly the history of comics. Again, there’s no saying they’ll reach that stage – and certainly nothing to suggest that they might win something if they do.

But the whole thing feels almost tangible. You can read overviews of the case on Comics Alliance and CBR right now – they know more about American Law than I do, so their accounts are far easier to understand than this one. The main point, however – is that this week Marvel are seeking to deny further royalty compensation to the man who created the comics which allow them to remain in business today.

And also that Thor is a woman now.

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