Jack Kirby's Family Loses Case, Marvel Retains Rights to Fantastic Four, Thor and Others

The saga continues on. I don't mean one the Fantastic Four's battles with Doctor Doom, Thor versus Loki, or even the X-Men fighting Magneto, but rather the epic copyright battle being waged between the family of famous comic book artist Jack Kirby and Marvel/Disney. In court yesterday, a judge ruled that Walt Disney Co. had the right to retain copyright to characters such as Thor, Spider-Man, The Invisible Woman, Cyclops etc., saying that Jack Kirby's family did not have the right to seek continuance of the copyright, as the characters were created as "work for hire" while Kirby was employed with Marvel, meaning that because he was drawing a regular paycheck from the company the creations were not his property.

Between 1958 and 1963, Kirby worked closely with comic book talent such as Stan Lee in creating and illustrating some of the most iconic characters in comics, a key in sparking what would become known as the Silver Age of comics. The family was not defeated by the ruling, saying that they would be appealing the decision to the next highest court. The family is citing the 1909 Copyright Act in their case, saying that Kirby had a right to own those over three dozen characters he was involved with creating. A new copyright law in the late 70s replaced the older one, but it didn't apply to Kirby's work. Marvel and Disney were confident that they would not lose the case on appeal.