As we all know, the Walt Disney Company has broken movie industry records with its Marvel Cinematic Universe character films and now it seems the company wants to make sure to maintain this momentum by suing to take full ownership of all Marvel characters.
In its attempts to fully control the Marvel Comics universe, the company is filing a series of lawsuits to keep full control of characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor and many others. According to a New York Times report, these lawsuits are aiming to invalidate copyright termination notices that have been served by the characters’ illustrators. Reportedly, if Disney were to lose this lawsuit, the company would be forced to share ownership of these billion-dollar characters.
The dispute first came about when Marc Toberoff, an intellectual property lawyer, served Disney and Marvel Entertainment copyright terminations on behalf of five of his clients. Amongst those are Lawrence D. Lieber and his older brother, Stan Lee.
Other clients who are ready to reclaim the rights of Marvel characters such a Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Falcon and Blade are also coming to the forefront. These new suits come from a provision of copyright law that allows authors or their heirs to regain ownership of the products after a specific number of years.
In these suits, The Walt Disney Company is claiming that since these works were for hire and owned by Marvel, the lawsuits are filed to ensure that the termination notices become invalid. However, Toberoff counters by stating, “At the time all these characters were created, their material was definitely not ‘work made for hire’ under the law. These guys were all freelancers or independent contractors, working piecemeal for carfare out of their basements…not ‘traditional, full-time employees.’”
For those worried about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s worth noting, per The Hollywood Reporter, that if these parties win their suits against Disney Marvel Studios is still expecting to hold a share of the characters. However, the studio would have to split its profits with the creators.
What are your thoughts on Disney having to sue to maintain the full rights of these beloved characters? Let us know in the comments!