Entertainment & Arts

Warner Bros retains all rights to Superman

Cover of Superman No.1 comic book from 1939
There has been a series of rights disputes over Superman

Warner Bros has won a case against the heirs of one of the creators of Superman allowing it to continue to own all rights to the famous superhero.

It follows a ruling that the heirs had given up their claim on the character in 1992.

Superman is one of Warner Bros most valuable characters.

The Man of Steel's co-creators, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, battled for higher compensation for Superman throughout their lives.

Siegel's heirs have also fought DC Comics - owned by Warner - for a stake in copyrights to Superman.

In 2010, DC Comics sued the brother and sister of Shuster, the artist responsible for Superman, on the basis that they relinquished their ability to reclaim the superhero's copyrights in exchange for annual pension payments from DC Comics.

'Annual payments'

Shuster's heirs had argued that the copyright agreements could be cancelled under provisions that allowed the creators of works made before 1978 a mechanism to reclaim their rights.

However, Judge Wright ruled that Shuster's sister's decision to accept higher annual payments created a new agreement which cancelled any previous contract.

A lawyer for the Shuster family said in a statement: "We respectfully disagree with its factual and legal conclusions, and it is surprising given that the judge appeared to emphatically agree with our position at the summary judgment hearing."

Warner Bros declined to comment on the ruling.

Superman has generated more than $500m (£310m) for Warner Bros with five films at the US box office and billions of dollars more from television, toys and games, and comic books spanning 74 years.

The latest Superman film, Man of Steel, is due for release in 2013.

Director Zach Snyder told fans at Comic-Con earlier this year that his film would make the superhero more relatable than previous depictions that showed him as "a big blue Boy Scout up on the throne and you can't really touch him."

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