Superman Returns? How Superman’s Creators Recovered A Copyright And How You Can Too The creators of Superman sold their copyright during the Great Depression for $130. Their heirs are now in the process of reclaiming that valuable copyright. Their tale is a graphic demonstration of the important copyright reversion rules under the Copyright Act. Under the Act, artists who sold their works many years ago are entitled to recover them, even if they signed contracts that said otherwise.
This article explains the importance of these copyright reversion rights and what artists must do to reclaim the rights to their work. demonstration of the important copyright reversion rules under the Copyright Act. Under the Act, artists who sold their works many years ago are entitled to recover them, even if they signed contracts that said otherwise. This article explains the importance of these copyright reversion rights and what artists must do to reclaim the rights to their work.
Artists of all kinds have found themselves in a similar position, forced to sell the copyrights in their creative works to make ends meet. Those artists should know that, as with practically all superhero tales, the Superman story has a happy ending. And theirs can too. In most walks of life, a sale, like a diamond, is forever. Absent unusual circumstances, if you sell your car, it is gone. You have no more right to it, and you never will.
Most authors of copyrighted works – be they musicians, artists, authors or architects – probably assume that the same rules apply to their copyright: once assigned, the copyright is gone forever. It is not. The Copyright Act, in provisions that are virtually unique in all of American law, allow the author of a copyrighted work can reclaim his or her copyright many decades later by jumping through the right legal hoops at just the right time.
Because of these reversion provisions, Mr. Siegel’s heirs are in the process of reclaiming the Superman copyright, a process that will result in the multimillion dollar transfer of wealth from Warner Brothers to them. All other authors of valuable copyrighted material-and the heirs of such authors-should pay attention to their story. The copyright reversion rules under the Copyright Act are complicated, and it is likely impossible in a short article to turn a lay person into an expert.
In light of the complexity of the process and the consequences of failure, it makes very little sense for most copyright authors to try and reclaim copyrights on their own. Legal help is almost certainly required. But when should a copyright author who assigned his or her work seek legal counsel to start the process?