Marvel has filed a lawsuit in the United States to try to maintain the rights to heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Black Widow, Ant-Man and Hawkeye, who will host a series on Disney+ in November, among others.
The lawsuit is filed against the heirs of comic artists such as Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and Gene Colan, responsible for creating some of the most iconic characters in Casa das Ideias. Family members of the late comic book geniuses attempt to reclaim intellectual property rights based on a 1976 US Copyright Act.
The defense of the comic book publisher, acquired in December 2009 by Disney, claims that, because they were invented by hired professionals, intellectual properties belong to the company and do not fall under the law, which offers the possibility for authors to claim ownership of material created by service providers in the 1970s.
The publisher’s lawyers also claim that Marvel actively participates in character creation, working alongside the in-house talents. According to the company’s defense, she had creative control over all of Stan Lee’s own creations, who was hired and would have received payments for every comic book page created.
If the US court judges the case in favor of the comic artists’ heirs, the loss of rights would have implications not only for the comics, but also for the cinema, impacting MCU’s productions on the big screen and on the streaming service. An alternative would be to seek a deal with the creators’ families in exchange for higher payments to new character owners.