Robot 6

‘We conclude that the contract language is ambiguous’

ghost rider

Art by Mike Ploog

“We conclude that the contract language is ambiguous and that genuine disputes of material fact, as to the parties’ intent and other issues, preclude thee granting of judgment as a matter of law.”

– from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals order vacating a 2011 ruling that writer Gary Friedrich had handed over the rights to Ghost Rider to Marvel in the 1970s, and remanding the case to trial. It represents a rare, if possibly only temporary, victory for creators (or their heirs) in a legal battle to reclaim the copyright to a comic-book property. It also thrusts into the spotlight the oft-discussed standard contacts of the era, which frequently involved relinquishing copyright simply by endorsing checks.

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Comments

3 Comments

I think all this lawsuit was bullshit.
This version of Ghost Rider was in the public domain. Marvel Spotlight no.5 was never properly registered with the copyright office. Before 1978 it was mandatory to do so and quickly, not years later.
In recent years both Friedrich and Marvel tried to register copyright renewals on a work that was never properly registered.

Knut Robert Knutsen

June 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

This is basically Friedrich wasting even more of people’s time and money (and opening himself back up to the harsher points Marvel let slide).

All this says that IF Gary Friedrich hadn’t created Ghost Rider as work for hire, then the ambiguity of the 1978 contract language MIGHT give him a shot at renewal rights.

The facts that make the case so clearly work for hire remain in place and uncontested by the appeals judge.

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