Just when it seems like all is fine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, actually it’s not just look at the Black Widow/Scarlett Johansson lawsuit, comes news of a new legal battle which could be on the level of “The Blip” proportions.
TheWrap is reporting Marvel is suing to prevent losing copyrights to many key Avengers characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man and Black Widow.
The company filed four lawsuits on Friday that challenge multiple copyright termination notices that have been filed by the heirs of Marvel comics writers, seeking to reclaim the rights to the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Falcon.
Suits were filed against Lawrence D. Lieber, Patrick S. Ditko, Michelle Hart-Rico and Buz Donato Rico III, and Keith A. Dettweiler. Ditko is the brother of Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange and Spider-man co-creator Steve Ditko.
According to the filings, Marvel argues that these characters were created as “work for hires,” meaning the writers and artists worked for Marvel, so the company owns the rights. The heirs have no valid claims to copyright.
Under the Copyright Act of 1976, creators of works were given a non-transferable, nonwaivable right to recapture their copyrights 35 years after their transfer.
In their defense, Marvel points to a similar lawsuit involving Jack Kirby, who co-created Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men. Kirby’s heirs sought to reclaim those copyrights, but the federal court took Marvel’s side, arguing that the characters were made under work for hire agreements.
Real talk – Marvel has made billions adapting those characters on both the big and small screen, most notably with the MCU. The company along with DC has been criticized for not allowing the creators to reap the benefits.
Marvel just reacquired the rights to The Fantastic Four and X-Men from their merger with Fox and quietly got the rights back to Namor and the Hulk from Universal. We’ll see if lawyers can do what Thanos couldn’t – wipe out the Avengers.