Robot 6

Gary Friedrich’s Ghost Rider lawsuit against Marvel lives on

ghost riderA lawyer for Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich asserts the writer’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against Marvel will proceed, despite reports in June that the action had been dismissed.

Friedrich sued Marvel, Sony, Hasbro and other companies in April 2007, arguing the copyrights used in the Ghost Rider movie and related products reverted to him in 2001. He sought unspecified damages for copyright infringement, and violations of federal and Illinois state unfair competition laws, negligence, waste, false advertising and endorsement, and several other claims.

His attorney Charles S. Kramer now tells Digital Spy the order of dismissal, issued in late May, relates to the claims made under state law. A reading of the order by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones supports that. She upheld the 2009 recommendation by Magistrate Judge James C. Francis that the state law and Lanham Act claims be dismissed. However, Francis also determined the Copyright Act of 1976 is the relevant federal statute.

“Gary’s case was originally filed asserting claims under both federal and state law,” Kramer tells Digital Spy. “The court’s ruling was only that this is a question of federal law only, under the federal copyright law, and that the case should thus proceed only on the federal law issues. [...] The federal copyright claim was always the main part of our case, and this is really more of a procedural ruling than anything else.”

In the 2007 lawsuit, Friedrich claimed he created Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in 1968 and, three years later, agreed to publish the character through Magazine Management, which eventually became Marvel Entertainment. Under the agreement, the publisher held the copyright to the character’s origin story in 1972′s Marvel Spotlight #5, and to subsequent Ghost Rider works.

However, Friedrich alleged the company never registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office and, pursuant to federal law, he regained the copyrights to Ghost Rider in 2001.

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7 Comments

amazing that gary has another chance to reclaim the copy right that if his claims are right about how he created ghost rider and that he indeed under copy right law ghost riders rights went back to him. then he should have his right to have his claims heard. all the luck to gary hope he winds up with if not the rights to his creation at least marvel and Dis having to make a over due royalty plan for gary using ghost rider.

This is another case of a big company merging and the mess that can be made of it. If Gary’s right I really hope he gets his fair due. If he’s wrong-which could just be a misunderstanding on his part-hopefully both parties can amicably come to terms on a deal.

Wow. There is actually a lot more to this story than some of the other cases of ‘Golden Age’ creators trying to get a piece of the action. This goes back to the western character, Ghost Rider created in the 50′s. What seems to be even funnier, or perhaps ironic is a better term, is that the whole impetus for the creation of the demonic Ghost Rider seemed to be to allow Marvel to trademark the name after the copyright expired on the original western/horror character, published in western comics by Magazine Enterprises. I have met Mr. Friedrich and he seems to be a nice gentleman, however, I would be remiss if I did not ask what role Roy Thomas and Dick Ayers had in the creation of the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider as well,as they are also credited in the Marvel Spotlight issue as well.

Interesting.

If it wasn’t work for hire, doesn’t that mean that, even if this claim is dismissed, he (or his statutory heirs) can request copyright reversion in 2025?

It’s probably true that they could seek copyright reversion. The only problem I see is that the Ghost Rider character has never been able to hold its own. The movie made money, but was subpar by almost everyone’s standards and the comic book has not been able to last the long haul. Marvel could easily let Johnny Blaze go and create a new Ghost Rider based on the 50′s character which is marvel property. You could also claim, on Marvel’s side of things, that Johnny Blaze is a derivitive character of the original Ghost Rider and therefore already a Marvel property. Time may be an issue as well as this guy seemed to have waited a long time before filing his claim. He sued Marvel and others nearly six years after the fact. In any case I don’t think he’s going to win and I’m frankly sick of creators doing this. I think after a certain point in time you have to move on and start creating something new rather than fighting over old characters that you’ve long since abandoned.

We Ghost Rider fans should be allowed to sue for that stupid movie and pretty much everything Marvel has done with the character since then, including that miniseries where Blaze escapes hell and is suddenly Ghost Rider again.
FIX THE CHARACTER or just drop him.

@JR

You are sick of creators doing this? Why? Are they suing you? Are you Marvel, DC or any other entertainment entity that is being sued? If not you don’t have a “right” to be sick of it, and the creators don’t have to give a care about you or anybody being sick.

As for Ghost Rider movie being panned by fans and critics, it doesn’t matter. It made enough money to warrant a sequel. Friedrich wants money for a character he claims is his. Not just due to him creating it, but because he owned t he rights to the character. Whoever else had a had in creating elements of the mythos for Marvel is moot.

The part of the series not going the long haul is moot and incorrect also. Who cares if GR wasn’t a long running series from 1971 until now? Almost month of every year of the 40 years since the character debuted in Marvel comics, GR has been in print by Marvel in some form or another. The character is popular. Forget the comic books. Merchandising alone is worth a mint.

As for creators “moving on” and creating something else. That argument doesn’t make a lick of sense. 1) who is to say that he isn’t creating new works? Why would that stop him from benefiting from the rewards of HIS old work? Marvel has. Oh, they can make millions from the upcoming Ghost Rider movie, but the original creator CAN’T? Bullshit. Friedrich can create all of the characters he wants, but hitting the jackpot with a successful character, an iconic image, is a hard thing to do. He did it and Marvel took it.

I would not be on Friedrich’s side if he did it as a work for hire, the same way Steve Gerber did with Howard the Duck. But he didn’t his character was co=opted, the rights reverted back to him. Pay the guy. A person should be able to benefit from the fruits of their labor, not have it taken from them and told “oh go create something else.” Why? so that can be taken from him, too?

You have to fight for your rights.

If there is Fuck that.

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