Marvel Sues Heirs Of Creators In Bid To Avoid Losing Copyrights To Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, And More

Disney and Marvel are heading back to court for a legal battle with the heirs of comic book creators like Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The stakes? The rights to some of their most famous superhero characters!

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Disney and Marvel are suing the heirs of many legendary comic book creators, including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Gene Colan. They're looking to terminate the copyrights of characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, The Falcon, and several other heroes under termination provisions of copyright law that states authors or heirs can reclaim rights to the material they've created once a statutory set period of time has passed. 

In the case of Spider-Man, for example, Marvel could lose full rights to the wall-crawler in June 2023!

This appears to be a blatant money grab by the family members (Stan Lee's brother, Larry Lieber, filed termination notices for Lee's creations back in May), but it could spell trouble for Disney. This didn't work when Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster went after Superman, and Disney has the same attorney who won that case on their side, hence why these lawsuits have now been filed. 

Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Patrick Ditko, Don Rico, and Keith Dettwiler are the subject of the filings, with the case set to establish whether these comic book characters should be deemed as works made for hire (thereby making the publisher, Marvel Comics in this instance, the statutory author). 

It's likely this could be settled out of court, and worst-case scenario, Disney ends up as the co-owners of these characters. That would mean sharing profits, but there could be complications. We'll have to wait and see how this pans out over the months (potentially years) to come.

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