It’s being reported that Warner Bros have won a court case which will determine who owns the copyright to Superman, meaning they will retain rights over the character. On Wednesday a court ruling was issued which stated that:

the studio’s motion has been granted for summary judgement on the question of whether a 1992 agreement with Jean Peavy, the sister of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, precludes the estate’s attempt to terminate a copyright grant.

In essence, this means that the court has ruled that the Shuster family have given up their claim on the Superman character, as Peavy’s decision to accept higher annual payments from the company in 2010 created a new deal — which invalidated any previous ones made by the family. This means that, for the time being, Warner Bros will continue to own half of the Superman character, with the other half belonging to the family of Jerry Siegel, his other co-creator. Warner have not commented on the ruling, but Marc Toberoff, lawyer for the Shuster estate, has issued the following statement:

We respectfully disagree with its factual and legal conclusions, and it is surprising given that the judge appeared to emphatically agree with our position at the summary judgement hearing.

This will likely lead to an appeal from the estate in the near future. This will be a sharp relief for Warner Bros, especially with the upcoming release of their ‘Man of Steel’ movie next year. Superman is one of the most profitable superhero characters of all time, having generated the company somewhere in excess of $500 million for the company over the years.

It is very unlikely that this is where the copyright battle will end for either party. DC are also currently contesting the Siegel estate’s claim for the other half of the copyright, with a court hearing set for November.


  1. Hi. Somebody needs to write a book covering the whole history of the Superman case. What a horrible injustice to Seigel and Schuster. On one hand, I feel terrible for the relatives of the creators and wouldn’t feel bad if there were no new Superman stories to right a wrong, as there are plenty of Superman stories out there already. But, there seems to be a lot of previous agreements that were signed off on, and it also isn’t fair to agree to one thing and then sue a few years later for a different agreement. I admit I don’t know all the facts about the whole case though. When in doubt, I prefer siding with the creators families especially since Siegel and Schuster were fans just like us. It really is a tragedy that broke those two men.

  2. In the real world, Superman would be fighting lawyers and corporations like DC who just rewrite the rules to take what they want. Fans should really hold them accountable and not support the books or movies. They’ll reach a deal then…

  3. sounds to me like injustice was the verdict ruled by a judge who must therefore hate justice. or was paid off by an evil souless corporation.

  4. I care fuck DC. The company doesn’t aspire to the same ideals as the character therefore all the character’s stories are contrived and worthless. You know why people don’t take the Big “C” church seriously anymore? Caught too many times not living up to their ideals. I guess if these are just science fiction stories to you it doesn’t matter but if you grew up thinking the way Superman behaves is meaningful or exemplary then this is a mind-fuck.

  5. The problem is that its not Creator Owned, none of the comic books in mainstream now a days are owned by their creators. They are owned and controlled mainly by the big D “disney” that is. DC and Marvel now have the full backing of Disney and they glorious lawyers and litigators. No long are our childhood favorite heroes new and exciting and indy owned. The main movie making and book selling and merch. selling titles are all COMPANY owned. Which means its a money making enterprise, and they are doing all they can legally to make sure they own their money makers. Is it right, yes in the eyes of lawyers and accountants. So dont bitch and moan an complain that the owners from 60 years ago dont own them anymore. If they owned them they wouldnt have to go to court to complain an fight for their rights. Face it the owners slipped , they no longer own their stuff and someone else does thats life.

  6. I’m really suprised at the lack of support for Siegel and Schuster family here. Without these guys there might not even be a comic book industry. I don’t know why fans support these faceless corporations like this. To say ” that’s life” is a bitter pill to a relative of someone who created one of the most famous pop icons in the WORLD. I know Siegel and Schuster probably signed the rights away probably half a dozen times, but after reading Geeks and gangsters by Gerard Jones, and as a 41 year old man with a family- I really felt bad for those guys as a fellow man/spouse/parent. Imagine living with the fact of creating Superman and signing it away?

  7. not to imply this is a consolation, but imagine creating Superman and no-one ever knowing because publishers refused to invest in a risky (but interesting) prospect without having major/complete control over it. The creators obviously tried to get more money once they realized what they created and National (DC) obviously knew there was potential from the creators to try get their work back and hence why they forced the sale(for legal protection on their investment).

    Nobody involved in this case can be said to be morally superior, but at least DC has not been caught practicing questionable legal practices regarding the trail, like making illegal deals (Marc and Mark) or claiming Superboy was created solely by seigel, when it is convenient, ignoring that Superboy is Superman at a younger age (families).

  8. Big news a few years ago before New 52 hit and now it doesn’t matter.

    Quick whats the next big copyright story we can follow and make moot in a few months with another corporate move?

    Stan Lee vs ?

  9. The ruling here is better for the fans. DC and WB can use the character they way he needs to be used without others standing in their way.

    There is absolutely no reason why Schuster’s sister should be getting paid any royalties anyway. She didn’t create Superman. He passed away. If I die on the job, my salary doesn’t go to my sister. And the only reason she’s not getting anything from it now is because she got greedy and wanted more for something she didn’t even do. Her brother should be disappointed in her.

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