[Movies] Ghost Rider Comic Book Rights Heading Back to Court
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.11.2013
Marvel's win in copyright case is overturned...
Marvel's claim on the character of Ghost Rider is potentially in jeopardy again. THR reports that Second Circuit Court of Appeals have overturned a ruling from 2011 that creator Gary Friedrich had given Marvel the rights in contracts as a freelancer. Friedrich wrote the origin story of the character in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1972. The appellate judge said that Friedrich's agreement with Marvel from 1978 was too "ambiguous" and meritied a further look.
Marvel has asserted that the characters and story were created in collaboration with Marvel personnel and resources.. However, the judge wrote that "The contract contains no explicit reference to renewal rights and most of the language merely tracks the 1976 Act's definition of 'work made for hire.' The Agreement could reasonably be construed as a form work-for-hire contract having nothing to do with renewal rights."
However, the judge also noted that Friedrich's authorship claim on the character could be in doubt, noting, "When construed in Marvel's favor, the record reveals that Friedrich had nothing more than an uncopyrightable idea for a motorcycle-riding character when he presented it to Marvel because he had not yet fixed the idea into a tangible medium."
The case could easily be settled at this point of course. If not, it will go to trial. Obviously, this would affect any film rights to the character as well.