Marvel settles with four artists in superhero copyright fight
10 June, 2023, 10:06 pm
(Reuters) – Disney’s Marvel has agreed to end its court battles with four artists who attempted to reclaim copyright interests in superheroes they co-created including Iron Man, Ant-Man and Captain Marvel, according to federal court filings published on Friday.
The filings said Marvel would drop its lawsuits against Larry Lieber and the estates of Don Heck, Gene Colan and Don Rico with prejudice, which means they cannot be refiled. A Disney spokesperson and an attorney for the artists said they had reached an “amicable resolution.”
Marvel did not appear to have settled with the estate of comic book artist Steve Ditko, which is seeking to reclaim his share of copyrights in Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Both sides asked a Manhattan federal court for pretrial wins in that case last month.
Under the Copyright Act, a creator can terminate a copyright assignment after decades in certain circumstances. Marvel sued the artists, who wrote and illustrated Marvel comics in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, after they sought to terminate and reclaim copyrights related to several superheroes.
Other superheroes the artists said they co-created include Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Blade.
Marvel had argued the artists’ works were made for hire, which it said prevented them from being able to recapture the copyrights.
Marvel won a similar case at a U.S. appeals court in 2013 involving illustrator Jack Kirby. That case was later settled as the U.S. Supreme Court was set to consider whether to take it up.
The cases are Marvel Characters Inc v. Lieber, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-07955; Marvel Characters Inc v. Ditko, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-07957; Marvel Characters Inc v. Dettwiler, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-07959; Marvel Characters Inc v. Solo, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-05316; and Marvel Characters Inc v. Hart-Rico, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:21-cv-07624.