The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a 2001 agreement between Joanne Siegel and WB supersedes the Siegel estate’s 2008 victory in a copyright reversion decision.
Meaning: it’s just about over, writes The Hollywood Reporter.
The decision follows a ruling by a federal judge in October to deny the estate of Superman’s other co-creator Joseph Shuster that ability to recapture his own portion of the Superman copyright.
Together, the decisions likely mean that Warner Bros. can exploit the Superman franchise without fear of legal hassles from the estates of Shuster and Siegel. That’s significant because Warner Bros. is preparing to release this summer’s big-budget Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan.
Hope Jeff Trexler will be along with more detailed legal analysis, but from where we sit, unless the Supreme Court takes this up, it looks like this 70-year battle could be over.
Here’s the decision:
Update: here’s Trexler’s quick take on the case. He’ll be back in a bit with a more substantial analysis.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Siegel heirs did indeed reach a settlement with DC back in 2001. As a result, their 2008 victory is meaningless.
As I’ve noted throughout my posts, the law in this case weighed against the Siegels in substantial ways – Toberoff’s best hope lay was that the liberal panel of judges would take an approach similar to Judge Larson’s in 2008. If Toberoff couldn’t manage to win with this panel, it only confirms how ill-considered it was not to reach a more symbolic settlement after his surprise victory.
I’ll have more after I get a copy of all of the opinions from today’s rulings on the Siegel & Pacific Pictures litigation.