Disney bought this.
- ...The Kirbys are "greedy bastards"...
- ...Kirby's work was done work-for-hire and doesn't qualify...
- ...Kirby knew what the deal was and nobody should try to change it now...
- ...Jack was working for Marvel when he created his characters so Marvel owns them, just like if you work for Boeing and design an aircraft, they own that work...
- ...The Kirby family has no vested interest in Marvel and just wants to see it destroyed...
- ...Marvel made Jack Kirby and he'd have been nothing without them...
PLANET GRIFFIN took some time reading through various articles entailing the kind of conditions that Jack and others worked under during the early Marvel heyday... Conditions which helped establish, and flaw, the Marvel foundation:
Work-for-hire, originally intended as a special circumstance, was widely used by the publication to seize rights from the artist without paying any more cash than what was agreed upon... Of course, for a creation to be work-for-hire, meaning the company or corporation is the legal "creator" of the work and the freelancer is simply acting as their agent to carry out their wishes, the work-for-hire agreement must be made in advance of the creation of the work, the artist must specifically sign away all interest in the work, and money must change hands. In the absence of these conditions, work is assumed to be owned by the artist.
Marvel then-publisher Martin Goodman using the notorious "back of the check contract" in the 1960s (the Botcc was a waiver that had to be signed in order to sign the check and collect payment for work already done – in other words, coercion – were used to argue that the plaintiffs were aware of terms and didn't contest them). The '60s comics business concept of how things worked was that a single payment to a freelancer for a story bought:
a) The physical art or script to the story
b) All reproduction rights to the art or script (Today, physical art no longer goes hand in hand
with reproduction rights- they must be purchased separately- and artwork held by the publisher is subject to taxation.)
c) Ownership of not only the story but all intellectual property and ancillaries rights deriving from the story, forever and ever. (Property rights must be specifically signed over-transfer can no longer be assumed. )
Point is, these are the kind of double sided dealings, veiled as 'standard business practices', that were used to create the foundation of the House of Ideas as we know it today... This is also the big black eye to Marvel lore that the Kirby lawsuit reveals. Now, while all this is going on, remember: Disney bought this.
Now Disney contends that they 'fully considered' the copyright claims before they pursued it's multi-billion dollar purchase of Marvel, admitting their full knowledge of the legal entanglements of Marvel, The biggest question that burns in the minds of many is why did the Mouse house buy the House of Ideas in the first place? How does the Kirby debacle fit into all this?
Marvel finally establishes itself into the mainstream zeitgeist in regards to film and multimedia (y'know--- switching out Sunbow for Madhouse, for example) by any means necessary. The legal entanglements aside, Disney prepares to purchase the company for more than what the comic company is actually worth, drawing the ire of Wall Street and flooring the entire industry, leaving the most obvious question to be asked: Why?
Stan Lee is ecstatic over the purchase, claiming to the extent that Disney and Marvel are '2 great tastes that taste great together'... The question still burns quietly... Through all of this (Joe Q's out-of-touch commentary concerning OGN's and Brevoort's double-edged commentary concerning 'the great white alpha male and his place in comics), the Kirby estate prepares a plan that's been brewing since 'The King' died in 1994 (don't forget folks, Jack Kirby was actually a champion in the fight for creator-owned properties and fair ownership rights).
The road to reclaiming the kingdom comes just BEFORE the Magic Kingdom decides to push the sale through. Robert Iger, one of the shrewedest businessmen in the business, goes forward in spite of the complicated lawsuit to come--- Disney buys the company anyway.
Now say the Kirby heirs regain the copyrights outright, and they decide to sell their controlling shares. Disney's known for it's generous payouts ( They paid $8 billion for PIXAR alone), so the idea of buying the controlling share would be a drop in the bucket for them... Excelsior!
It's an interesting premise to say the least... I'd buy it. How about you?
This is PLANET GRIFFIN.