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Judge Rules Against Warner Bros. on Secret Superman Docs

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Warner Bros. has lost another battle in its war with the estates of Superman co-creators Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Warner Bros. has lost another battle in its war with the estates of Superman co-creators Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zaresky barred the studio from getting a closer look at secret documents that reportedly detail an agreement between the estates to not work with the studio after they regain the rights to the character and how they will divvy up the proceeds.

This legal war has been ongoing for a decade. The estates exercised their rights to terminate the copyright grant to Warner Bros. and DC in 1999. In 2004, they filed suit to receive a legal declaration that they held the rights. A judged ruled in their favor in 2008.

In 2010, Warner Bros. sued Joanne Siegel, who has since died, and her lawyer Marc Toberoff claiming that the two entered joint ventures that interfere with Warner Bros. remaining rights. As part of this suit, Warner Bros. has been trying to gain access to documents between the defendants. Warner's lawyer Daniel Petrocelli had argued that the agreement was illegal, because it sets agreements on rights that the parties do not hold yet. The judge said that the legality of the agreement is not to be determined at the discovery phase and Warner Bros. claiming it is illegal does not make it so.

The documents were first discovered as part of the estates' original suit. Toberoff successfully blocked Warner Bros. from obtaining them in that suit stating they were covered under attorney-client privilege.

Warner Bros. loses some control of the character in 2013. The specifics of who owns what are being worked out in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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