In an attempt to retain full control over certain Marvel characters including Spider-Man, Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel, Disney has decided to sue several writers and artists who are seeking to reclaim copyrights of the popular superheroes based on Marvel comics including Spiderman, Black Widow and Captain Marvel.
According to reports, the lawsuits filed under Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by Disney, are in response to several copyright termination notices filed at the beginning of 2021, seeking to return the rights of these characters to their respective authors or their heirs as the US copyright law demands that authors or their heirs may seek to reclaim the rights from publishers after a certain amount of time.
The notices filed earlier would allow Marvel to continue using the characters in their projects but Disney and Marvel would also have to share ownership and profits with the original creators. Among those seeking copyright termination include Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, Don Heck, co-creator of Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, Larry Lieber, youngest brother of Stan Lee, and co-creator of Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man, Don Rico, co-creator of Black Widow, and Gene Colan, co-creator of Falcon, Captain Marvel, and Blade.
The lawsuits filed by Disney has specifically mentioned that the characters were created as “work made for hire, to which the Copyright Act's termination provisions do not apply." In Steve Ditko’s lawsuit, Disney wrote that Ditko was ‘assigned’ by Marvel, and “had the right to exercise creative control over his contributions, and [Marvel] paid him a per-page rate for his contributions," The lawsuit made it clear that any contribution made by Ditko or other creators “were at Marvel's instance and expense."
(With Inputs From Pinkvilla)