It took two years of court wrangling, but ultimately DC Comics found the legal kryptonite to shut down an attempt by the heirs of a Superman co-creator to recapture rights to the heroic character. Because of an agreement they signed in 1992, the family of artist Joe Shuster won’t be able to claim the “Man of Steel” as their own.
The Superman battle is one of the most closely-watched battles over copyright “termination,” a process through which artists can take back the rights to their old works. Such termination notices are allowed by Congress as part of the 1976 Copyright Act, and Shuster’s heirs hoped the law would allow them to take back the character that he and writer Jerry Siegel created in 1938.
Siegel, Shuster, and their heirs still made plenty of money off the comic book hero from Krypton—about $4 million since 1975, according to the judge’s order [PDF] released yesterday.