Warner Bros. Wins Big Ruling in Superman Copyright Case

Judge rules that 1992 agreement between DC and heir of Superman co-creator supersedes rival motion to terminate rights next year

Warner Bros. is one step closer to owning the Man of Steel outright.

The company, which owns D.C. Comics, scored a substantial victory in U.S. District Court in Central California on Wednesday, as Judge Otis D. Wright granted DC's motion for partial summary judgment.

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At issue was whether DC's  agreement with Superman co-creator Joe Shuster's sister, Jean Peavy — Shuster's sole heir and estate executor– precludes a 2003 copyright termination notice filed by Shuster relative Mark Warren Peary. (Peary, Peavy's son, was named by Shuster as the executor of his estate should Peavy die or be unable to fulfill her duties as executor. Shuster died in 1992.)

The termination notice sought to recapture early Superman works on Oct, 26, 2013.

In his partial summary judgment, White found that the 1992 agreement overrides other agreements.

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"In sum, the Court finds that the 1992 Agreement, which represented the Shuster heirs' opportunity to renegotiate the prior grants of Joe Shuster's copyrights, superseded and replaced all prior grants of the Superman copyrights," White's order reads. "As such, between November 10, 2003 (when the Notice was served) and October 26, 2013 (its effective date), DC was and is the only party that may enter into an agreement with the Shuster heirs regarding the Superman rights sought to be recaptured."

Warner's "Man of Steel," which stars Henry Cavill as the red-caped superhero, is slated for release on June 14, 2013.

 

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report