Superman co-creator's family reportedly in copyright battle

AnotherUniverse.com, a website devoted tocomic books and science fiction, has reported that the widow and daughterof Jerry Siegel, co-creator with Joe Schuster of Superman, have filedpapers with the U.S. Copyright Office which have the effect of returning50% of the rights to the character of Superman to them. (Apparently, DCwill retain 50% interest in the rights unless the family of Joe Schusterfiles similar papers. Whether the Schuster family, or representative, willdo so is not known.) The papers, filed on April 3, 1997, led to a reversionin April of this year. This came about because, according toAnotherUniverse.com, "In recognition of the weak bargaining positionsauthors have early in their careers, the Copyright Act provides for atermination of any grant of transfer of copyright. For grants of transferof copyright made prior to January 1, 1978, termination may be effected atany time during a five year period which begins at the end of the 56 yearsfrom the date the copyright was originally secured. In the case ofSuperman, that period began in 1994 (1938 + 56 years). Also according tothe statute, parties have to give a 2-year notice of the termination, whichis why the papers were filed in 1997 with the Copyright Office." Neither DCnor the Siegel family have commented. Under current copyright law, thecopyright to Superman will expire in 2033 at which time the character willenter the public domain. However, the copyright law has been changed in thepast, and it's very possible it will be changed again.

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