They are also suing the family of the late Steve Ditko who co-created Spiderman and Doctor Strange, with Stan Lee, and Gene Colan who created Daredevil.
Disney's Marvel unit has filed a suit against the family of the legendary late comic book artist Stan Lee to keep full rights of the characters they have created. They are also suing the family of the late Steve Ditko who co-created Spiderman and Doctor Strange, with Stan Lee, and Gene Colan who created Daredevil. The unit would like to retain full control of the Avenger characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor, among others. The complaints were obtained by The Hollywood Reporter and the documents state that Disney is seeking declaratory relief that these characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire.
If Disney wins this suit, Marvel will have to share ownership of the iconic characters worth billions. The suit is based on the “Marvel Method,” a loose collaborative working atmosphere between the artist and the author where the artist first draws up the page with the given plot, and the dialogues are added in later. The complaint states: “Marvel had the right to exercise creative control over Lieber’s contributions and paid Lieber a per-page rate for his work,” referring to Larry Lieber who also worked as a writer at Marvel and filed termination notices over creations in May.
Disney is filing lawsuits against the heirs of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and others to determine the fates Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and more. Stan Lee's 89-year-old brother, Larry Lieber, is among those being sued. @eriqgardner on the slugfest https://t.co/MiLVukJGpI— Aaron Couch (@AaronCouch) September 24, 2021
Attorney Marc Toberoff will be representing the heirs of the comic book creators. He has previously represented Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster's heirs in an unsuccessful termination attempt against Warner Bros. and DC. Warner Bros and DC Comics were represented by Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline at the time. Petrocelli is incidentally representing Disney in the current case. He is filing several lawsuits in New York and California against Lieber, Don Heck, Patrick Ditko, Don Rico, and Keith Dettwiler on the creation of famous comic book characters and who should be deemed the statutory author.
“Since these were works made for hire and thus owned by Marvel, we filed these lawsuits to confirm that the termination notices are invalid and of no legal effect,” Petrocelli told the New York Times. “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.” He also added, “At the core of these cases is an anachronistic and highly criticized interpretation of 'work-made-for-hire' which needs to be rectified.”
Toberoff had previously worked on the Jack Kirby petition, about whether he could terminate a copyright grant on Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and The Mighty Thor. It was determined that Kirby's heirs could not keep the rights. The latest petition against the comic book creator heirs is very much in the same light.