Robot 6

Ghost Rider lawsuit heads to trial in November

marvel spotlight5Marvel will defend its ownership of Ghost Rider before a jury after a federal judge on Thursday set a Nov. 4 trial for writer Gary Friedrich’s lawsuit against the publisher.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest made the order a little more than two weeks after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned her 2011 decision rejecting Friedrich’s claims that the copyright to the Spirit of Vengeance reverted to him a decade earlier. According to Deadline, Marvel’s lawyers indicated Thursday in a conference meeting that they won’t challenge the appeals court ruling, and will file a motion for a jury trial.

Friedrich, long credited as co-creator of the character with Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog, filed the lawsuit in April 2007, shortly after the release of Columbia Pictures’ Ghost Rider movie, accusing the studio, Marvel, Hasbro and other companies of copyright infringement, false advertising and unfair competition, among other counts. The film grossed $228 million worldwide; the 2012 sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, earned $132.5 million.

The writer asserted 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.

But in December 2011, Forrest ruled in Marvel’s favor, saying finding Friedrich gave up ownership to the property when he endorsed checks that contained language relinquishing rights to Marvel’s predecessors. The judge said the writer signed over all claims to the character in 1971 and again in 1978 in exchange for the possibility of more freelance work for the publisher. (Two months later, Marvel agreed to abandon its 2010 countersuit accusing Friedrich of trademark infringement if the writer would pay $17,000 in damages and stop selling unauthorized Ghost Rider merchandise.)

Friedrich appealed in July, arguing the court erred in ruling that the language on the back of Marvel paychecks in the early 1970s and in the 1978 contract were sufficient to constitute transfer of copyright. However, his attorney also reasserted the claim that the agreement was entered into under duress, with Friedrich told “if I wanted to continue to work for Marvel that I would have to sign it.” The 2nd Circuit sided with Friedrich, ruling that the 1971 agreement with Marvel “is ambiguous on its face,” and wasn’t clear “whether it covered a work published six years earlier” or “whether it conveys renewal rights.”

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I really wish he’d at least acknowledge the contributions of Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog. I always thought it was kind of a dick move to sign his blog posts “The Sole Creator of Ghost Rider,” considering by all other accounts they were a part of the characters creation, but I hope he wins something.

It was never a counter suit, it was a counter claim, they’re very different things. Marvel never sued Garry, that $17000 was based on information that came out during the proceedings. That’s been way overblown by Gary and certain indy creators who like to pin there star to people fighting the big evil corporate machine so they can look good too.

Didn’t Marvel publish a comic called Ghost Rider in 1967? A vengeful spirit in the southwest that rode a horse? ( Yes, I know he wasn’t really a spirit, just some guy pretending to be one) A character that had been created in the 1950′s but later appropriated by Marvel?

Gary Friedrich ( and Roy Thomas, a guy well-known for resurrecting old characters, and Mike Ploog) basically re-imagined a pre-existing character and swapped out the horse for a motorcycle and made him a real supernatural character with a flaming head.

I’m all for creator’s rights but I don’t see how this is even a case.

“Didn’t Marvel publish a comic called Ghost Rider in 1967? A vengeful spirit in the southwest that rode a horse? ( Yes, I know he wasn’t really a spirit, just some guy pretending to be one) A character that had been created in the 1950′s but later appropriated by Marvel?
Gary Friedrich ( and Roy Thomas, a guy well-known for resurrecting old characters, and Mike Ploog) basically re-imagined a pre-existing character and swapped out the horse for a motorcycle and made him a real supernatural character with a flaming head.
I’m all for creator’s rights but I don’t see how this is even a case.”

Superman was a combination of Doc Savage/John Carter/Gladiator
Batman was a combination of The Shadow/Zorro/Black Bat
The Green Hornet was the Lone Ranger re-imagined, swapping out the horse for a roadster and giving him a secret identity and job.
According to you, Bob Kane and Siegel & Shuster didn’t do anything creative at all.

You acknowledge Marvel stole a character from a defunct publisher. (Ironically, it was still under copyright at the time.)
And not just a name, like Daredevil, but the character’s costume, motif, and modus operandi, changing only the secret identity!
Interesting…

Why would they want to spend money to get such an unprofitable character? I love GR as much as the next guy, but the book cant find enough readers to stay in publication and the movies didnt make enoug money to really be worth the effort.

Marvel stole a character from the public domain ( the previous publishing company had gone out of business and the copyright expired ) that one of it’s CREATOR’s( Dick Ayers) brought to them?
I guess they just “stole” Angela too?

Was DC publishing a book called “Superman” before Siegal and Schuster created the Last Son of Krypton?
I must have missed when they published “Batman” before Bob Kane came along? ( It’s also interesting that you don’t bring up Bill Finger as one of Batman’s creators when everyone knows he created tons of Batman stuff that Bob Kane ripped HIM off for.)

How much do the creators of Green Hornet and the Lone Ranger get from Dynamite or anyone, for that matter? Oh yeah, “public domain”.

“According to you, Bob Kane and Siegel & Shuster didn’t do anything creative at all.” I never said that but Gary Friedrich IS saying that about Dick Ayers, Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog.

I also know about the “Hell-Rider” comic that Gary had created fro another publishing company before he did Ghost Rider.

Here’s a synopsis from wikipedia ( not the most definitive source but good enough for this post)
“Lasting two 64-page issues, Hell-Rider (cover-dated Aug. & Oct. 1971)[1] starred the titular vigilante motorcyclist, a Vietnam War veteran, lawyer, and black belt martial artist named Brick Reese. With his customized, flamethrower-equipped motorcycle, and temporary super-strength courtesy of the experimental drug Q-47, the Los Angeles, California-based Hell-Rider battled the Claw, a masked, heroin-smuggling, secret society leader in issue #1, and a bestial rampager called the Ripper in issue #2. The stories featured scantily clad rock starlets, nightclub waitresses, and groovy, pot-smoking ‘ 70s chicks all quickly losing what little clothing they wore.”

Sounds more like the Punisher on a motorcycle more than anything else to me and I’d still say that there are more similar things about the pre-existing Western GR and modern Johnny Blaze than his drugged out Viet Nam vet exploitation series.

I understand that to you, the little guy is never wrong and all corporations are pure evil so please slag me some more while ignoring the facts if that helps you feel good about yourself.

Blazing Skull only predates Ghost Rider by what, 30 years or so? Good thing Gary “created” that.

All creators of comic characters deserve residuals in my opinion.
You wonder why you haven’t seen a new cool comic character from DC or Marvel since Gambit or Deadpool?
The creators bring the cool character and concepts to companies that will pay them and let them retain rights etc!
The artists and writers have gotten smart!

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