DISCLAIMER: Brent Chittenden is not a lawyer, has never been a lawyer nor has any plans on becoming a lawyer. His co-host on Two @$$holes Talking About Nerd Stuff is a lawyer but usually frowns and shakes his head every time Brent thinks he knows something about the law.
So this week everyone is a buzz over the fact that Jack Kirby’s heirs have sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel, Disney, Sony (home to the Spider-Man films), Universal Pictures (where The Hulk currently makes his movie bed) 20th Century Fox (a multitude of X-Men related projects, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and others) and a bunch of other companies.
Now while the Siegel lawsuit and copyright termination created a few big bumps in the road but if you look at it, say that termination had been successful. The only real character problem would have been Superman and possibly Superboy. DC kills them off for good and goes on their merry way.
But when some people say this could spell trouble for Marvel given that not only is it 45 copyrights in question but some of their biggest, yeah it looks like a meteor the size of the one from Armageddon headed the Bullpen’s way.
But what if it isn’t?
Think of it this way. There is a good chance that if Kirby’s estate was successful seven to ten years from now, all of those film contracts that say things like “forever” and “in perpetuity” would all be squashed.
And hey look! Is that Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy driving a fleet of dump trucks filled with money to Kirby’s heirs? Why yes I think it is. And what? Spider-Man and Wolverine can now play with the Avengers? Well isn’t that swell.
And it’s not like Disney was unprepared for this. They even state:
“The notices involved are an attempt to terminate rights seven to 10 years from now and involve claims that were fully considered in the acquisition.”
Now I am not going to make any direct accusations but Disney has done a lot in the past to regain and maintain property control. They successfully lobbied to change copyright law before but I wonder if Chip and Dale live near the Kirby estate?
Brent Chittenden is a Canadian based writer and one half of the Two Assholes Talking About Nerd Stuff podcast. He also blogs on his own site and occasionally writes for Explore Music. You can find him at here and occasionally in the bushes behind your house.