"My daughter Laura and I, as well as the Shuster estate, have done nothing more than exercise our rights under the Copyright Act. Yet, your company has chosen to sue us and our long-time attorney for protecting our rights."Nikki Finke has published a letter from the late Joanne Siegel to Jeffrey Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Inc.
The Siegel estate has been fighting to recapture their share of the copyright to Superman. Under U.S.copyright law, works sold to companies can be recovered by the creators at specified periods. There is no question that Superman was not a work for hire. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created it independently and tried selling it for years before it was bought by what was to become DC comics, now owned by Time Warner.
I've spent a fair amount of time on this blog warning creators about losing their rights. Anyone who has an idea that they hope to bring to the public needs to read this letter. Paste a copy of it wherever you do your creative work to remind you that it's possible to create a billion dollar property and still have to fight for what's legally yours.
"As for this letter, the purpose is three-fold:
"To protest harassment of us that will gain you nothing but bad blood and a continued fight.
"To protest harassment of our attorney by falsely accusing him of improper conduct in an attempt to deprive us of legal counsel.
"To make you aware that in reality this is a business matter and that continuing with litigation for many more years will only benefit your attorneys.
"This is not just another case. The public and press are interested in Superman and us and are aware of our and your litigations.
"The solution to saving time, trouble, and expense is a change of viewpoint. Laura and I are legally owed our share of Superman profits since 1999. By paying the owed bill in full, as you pay other business bills, it would be handled as a business matter, instead of a lawsuit going into its 5th year."