Courts Rule In Favor of Marvel Over Jack Kirby's Estate

A nearly two-year dispute between the estate of renowned artist Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics came to an end yesterday with the court ruling in favor of the comic book giant.

In 2009, Mr. Kirby's heirs sent Marvel and Disney 45 notices of a plan to reclaim copyrights in a series of Marvel comics that were published from 1958 to 1963. The comics included issues of "The Amazing Spider-Man," "The Avengers," "Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos," and others. In her ruling on Thursday, however, Judge McMahon said the notices "did not operate to convey any federally protected copyrights."

Marc Toberoff, the Los Angeles lawyer who represents the Kirbys, said, "We knew when we took this on that it would not be an easy fight given the arcane and contradictory state of 'work for hire' " case law under the 1909 Copyright Act. "We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling and intend to appeal this matter to the Second Circuit. Sometimes you have to lose to win."

Marvel, which always maintained that Kirby had created the characters under a "work for hire" contract, will now enjoy the unfettered benefits from his work for decades to come.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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Daniel D. Snyder is a writer based in New Mexico.

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