Marvel Could Lose Copyright Over Spider-Man And Doctor Strange – Bleeding Cool News

On the 26th of August, Patrick S Ditko, a relative of Steve Ditko and administrator of his estate, registered two notices of copyright termination against Marvel Entertainment for the first appearances of Doctor Strange and Spider-Man in comic books.
Doctor Strange Master of Black Magic! published in Strange Tales Vol. 1, No. 110 / Reg. B34036.
Notice of termination of grant under 17 USC Section 304 (c); date and manner of service of the notice: 8Jun21, by first class mail. Termination effective 9Jun23.
Party 1: Patrick S. Ditko, Administrator of the Estate of Stephen J. Ditko a.k.a. Steve Ditko.
Party 2: Marvel Entertainment, LLC, Marvel Worldwide, Inc., Marvel Property, Inc., Marvel Characters, Inc. (NY), Marvel Studios, LLC, MVL Rights, LLC, MVL Development, LLC, Marvel Characters, Inc. (CA), Walt Disney Company & Marvel Animation, Inc., successors in title to Vista Publications, Inc.
Spider-man! published in amazing Fantasy Vol.1, No. 15 / Reg. B976775.
Notice of termination of grant under 17 USC Section 304 (C); date and manner of service of the notice: 1Jun21, by first class mail. Termination effective 2Jun23.
Party 1: Patrick S. Ditko, Administrator of the Estate of Stephen J. Ditko a.k.a. Steve Ditko.
Party 2: Marvel Entertainment, Inc., Marvel Worldwide, Inc., Marvel Property, Inc., Marvel Characters, Inc. (NY), Marvel Studios, LLC,MVL Development, LLC, Marvel Characters, Inc. (CA), Walt Disney Company, & Marvel Animation, Inc., successors in title to Atlas Magazines, Inc.
Steve Ditko is the co-creator of both Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. He seemed to have no interest in pursuing Marvel for any legal recompense for the creation and use of both characters in comic books, TV shows, games, merchandise, and most prominently of late, superhero films. Both Doctor Strange and Spider-Man have big movies coming up. But what about the termination of copyright? It is a thing and was used by the Siegel estate regarding DC Comics and Superman. From that case;
Determining when a license or transfer can be terminated is complicated. The basic rule for works created and assigned prior to 1978 is that termination can be effective any time within a five-year window that opens exactly 56 years from the date copyright was originally secured. So, if as in Siegel, a copyright was secured on April 18, 1938, the five-year termination window opened on April 18, 1994. But even if that window is missed, if the work was in its renewal term in 1998, a second five-year window opens 75 years after the date of copyright. Shuster’s heirs are seeking to take advantage of this provision, having given notice of their intent to terminate in 2013 (1938 + 75 years). If a work is first created or assigned after 1978, the termination can generally be effective any time during a five-year window beginning 35 years after execution of the grant.
Amazing Fantasy #15 was published in 1962. Add fifty-six years to that, the window for copyright termination began in 2018 and finishes in 2023. Strange Tales #110 was one year later. Now seems to be the right time.  If Patrick S Dito is successful against Marvel in terminating copyright, this does not mean that Marvel Comics would have to stop publishing Spider-Man or Doctor Strange; they would still own the trademark for both. But elements from the two comics cited here could not be used in current comics and films. That might be the Spider-Man and Doctor Strange costumes, the identities of Peter Parker and Stephen Strange, spider-webs, magical incantations, their origins, and those of other characters such as The Ancient One, Aunt May, or Uncle Ben. In previous cases, the publisher has simply renegotiated their deal with the estate, which is why you now always see “By Special Arrangement With The Family Of Jerry Siegel” on every Superman, Superboy, or Supergirl appearance, however small. Might a new deal with the estate of Steve Ditko be in the offing?
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