Warner Brothers is facing the very real concept that after 2013, Superman, arguably the most globally recognizable character in their library, will not be theirs to exploit any longer. Courts awarded the estate of Jerry Siegel, the writer who quietly kicked off the entire superhero genre in 1938, the rights to key elements of Superman and his origin. The battle is still ongoing, as Warners recently replaced their lawyers as they move forward to determine if there's any retro-active money owed to the Siegel or Shuster (Joe Shuster, Superman's original artist) estates.
Which side of the argument do you fall on? Clearly, Superman would never have existed without Siegel and Shuster, and the character has produced massive revenue in comics, toys, television, books, apparel, and film, with that money going directly into corporate pockets -- not the pockets of the creators (or their heirs). The argument is that Siegel and Shuster were clearly work-for-hire and that they knew the deal going in -- anything they created for DC Comics belonged to DC Comics. They've been given some monetary compensation over the years, as a "thank you" from the company, but technically DC (and their parent company Warner Brothers) owes them nothing.
Or do they? Do you think DC has been fair to the estates of Siegel and Shuster or should the rights to a creation always belong to the creator? The fall-out from this case could very well change comics forever. At the very least, Warners will have to pay out licensing fees to continue to use Superman as usual, but it could also create a situation where every comic artist and writer starts banging on the doors of their employers, looking for their deserved piece of the pie.
Vote in our poll after the jump.