It’s possible that Disney’s legal fight for Marvel characters may have ramifications for the comics too. Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for releasing Black Widow in a hybrid format. Following this, that case will be accompanied by a much more complex one involving a slew of Marvel superheroes.
Character rights are returned to creators 60 years after creation under the Copyright Revision Act of 1976. The time is running out for characters like Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye. This is because their estates have all filed termination notices with the appropriate authorities to end their contracts. For obvious reasons, Disney will take this issue to court.
This argument has previously been effective for Disney in comparable cases, according to the corporation. Disney claims that the termination letters are unlawful since the characters were created under the paradigm of “work for hire”.
This means Disney will not lose its most famous heroes if the decision is reversed. Instead, they would form a partnership with the estates of the characters. Moreover, there will also be obliged to pay a portion of the profits made from these properties back to them. Because copyright laws vary from nation to country, this would only apply in the US.
It has long been debated whether or not work-for-hire contracts should be used by publishers such as Marvel and DC. Even the legendary Jack Kirby, who was involved in the creation of characters such as the Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Eternals, and Iron Man, was dissatisfied with the lack of financial compensation.
Artists and writers, as well as their families, have become more impatient since these characters have come to life on the big screen. Furthermore, these characters have obviously generated billions of dollars in box office income. On social media, Ed Brubaker expressed his mixed feelings about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This is what he expressed online. “For the most part all Steve Epting. I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a ‘thanks’ here or there. And over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with.”
However, if the courts rule against Disney, the historical problem of multi-dollar billion corporations raking in riches would be somewhat rectified. According to recent sources, authors and artists whose work is included in an MCU production get a fixed $5,000 compensation. This is certainly an improvement at the very least. Even if comic book publication pales in contrast to the MCU’s billions in revenue, it would remain important. It would also continue to be important if Disney lost the lawsuit and formed a relationship with the estates of the authors.
In other words, Disney would have to compensate the estates of Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, and the rest of the most notable Avengers for publishing comics. The case would establish a precedent as well, which would lead to the co-ownership of additional characters in the future. A number of estates may choose to work out agreements with Disney in which they cede their co-ownership in exchange for financial gain, while others may choose to keep the revenue coming in.
The bottom line is that if Disney loses, comic book consumers won’t notice much of a difference since the changes would be mostly hidden behind the scenes and Disney would have to share the revenues with the other company. There is rising public knowledge of Marvel and DC’s use of work-for-hire contracts, and this court action may add to that awareness, increasing the pressure to alter those arrangements, whatever the result might be.