The DC Comics character Superman has a long history of contentious legal battles over the rights and ownership of the popular and instantly-recognizable superhero. Though Superman often serves as a cautionary tale in the publishing world regarding the creator ownership of properties, many people don’t realize that the battle rages on to this day, almost 80 years after his creation.
The Hollywood Reporter summarized the latest chapter in the legal battle over the Superman character,reporting that Laura Siegel Larson, the daughter of the character’s co-creator Jerry Siegel and Joanne Siegel, has written a letter to Superman fans detailing the long-running legal battle with Warner Bros.
A bit of history: Siegel Larson has fought for many years to take creative control back from the studio by exploiting an aspect of copyright law (specifically section 203 which refers to the rights of a deceased author’s children). She experienced a degree of success in 2008 when a federal judge out of California upheld her termination notice to Warner Bros. regarding comic book issues that comprised Superman’s first appearances in the 1930s.
Things got ugly when DC Comics (a Warner Bros. subsidiary) decided to sue Siegel Larson as well as her lawyer Marc Toberoff for their attempts to interfere with its own rights on the franchise. This all came to a head this week when DC accused Toberoff of fraud, alleging that he intentionally withheld pertinent facts from the case.
Siegel Larson decided to write a letter to Superman fans, explaining her position in the battle for creative rights. She is a respected, award-winning broadcast journalist, and carefully lays out her case to the people this lawsuit arguably affects the most: people who read Superman comics. Her full, unedited letter, via THR, is below: