The Supreme Court Rules in Favor of DC Comics, Denies Review of Rights to Superman
It's a notable day for the Supreme Court of the United States, with their denial of appeals that effectively makesgay marriage legal in five states. But today, they also denied a review of the rights to the All-American superhero, Superman, and effectively ruled in favor of DC Comics and Warner Bros.
The challenge comes from the estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster. Shuster's sister, Jean Peavy, made an agreement with DC Comics in 1992 that they would pay her brother's final debts and expenses, as well as survivor benefits that included a pension of approximately $25,000 per year. But the agreement also terminated the estate's rights to the iconic character. The deal stated, "This agreement would represent the author/heir's last and final deal with DC and would fully resolve any past, present or future claims against DC."
The estate's attorney claimed that Peavy did not have the authority to terminate the rights to begin with, as only children and spouses were given termination rights at the time. Termination rights for executors of an estate were not added until 1996. However, a lower court ruled that the "broad and all-encompassing language of the 1992 Agreement unmistakably operates to supersede all prior grants," and the Supreme Court upheld this decision when they denied the review. They ruled 2-1 in DC Comics' favor, stating that the Shuster family's interpretation of the law would conflict with "extensive legislative history."