Superheroes becoming public domain: Superman in 2033, Batman soon after?


#1

My understanding is that 100 years or so after a property has been created (please correct any of this if I’m wrong), that property becomes public domain, so that ANYBODY can create a work based off of it. Many fairy tale characters (Peter Pan, for instance) fall under this domain. And, in about 2033, that will be when Superman becomes public domain, with Batman following a few years after.

Please chime in with your thoughts on this. Is this accurate? And if yes, what does it mean for a new generation of independent storytellers?


#2

Technically yes. Not gonna happen. The copyright for Mickey Mouse went up and Disney threw a bunch of lawyers at the case to keep it. I think it used to be 50 years or so before. If Warner Bros. is around at that time they’ll do the same. It’s like if Dracula was owned by a powerful company that still exists today. They’d do everything in the book to keep Dracula from being public domain.

Superman aside because that is a REALLY complicated legal situation and they may lose the rights to him way before 2033. Though it probably won’t happen, because the WB is rich… If anything the descendants of Superman’s creators will do stuff with the character and have some creative control over him in comics and movies if the WB doesn’t get their way during the next, umpteenth trial? The family keeps suing and keeps winning money, maybe that will just go on forever? And WB can keep it going for years with endless retrials. Again, the Superman thing is really complex and I’m not sure I understand all of it perfectly, you are probably better off reading up on it on the net…


#3

Oh, snap! This means my Ray Palmer rock opera may proceed as planned after all…


#4

Let’s keep an eye out for Papa Superman’s “DC Fairy Tales!” in the near future.

“Batman and the Beanstalk” = That giant is gonna die. :mad:


#5

it’s not 100 years from creation… it’s 50 years after the death of the creator (IIRC I heard it was raised to 70 years recently?)


#6

Right, 50 years was the case with Mickey Mouse IIRC.


#7

Also I think Bob Kane died after Batman & Robin if memory serves me right, so Bats should be good.


#8

Wait, what if the character is owned by a company, isn’t that intellectual property as well? As long as the company is alive, the product can’t be touched nor used by anyone else.

Correct me if I am wrong.


#9

Who wouldn’t die after that movie?

Especially if you’re the one who created those characters…


#10

Bill Finger died a long time ago, but Jerry Robinson is still alive. Kane himself was somewhat extraneous.


#11

I know for media it was raised to 70 a while ago cause of some Elvis stuff I believe. I’d also be curious of the change based on trademark/copy-protection. I know getting something trademarked is a BITCH compared to getting copy-protection. I know the comic entities are not just copy-protected but trademarked, so as long as they continue to show ownership of the property, no one can use their likeness - the copy-protection may drop, but trademark can go indefinatly - so you’d just get hit with a different lawsuit for releasing your own Pre-Crisis Superman vs Prep-time Batman comic.

  • :bluu: