Warner Brothers has been fighting tooth and nail against a court-ordered award requiring them to pay the family of the late Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman for their use of the character after 50% of the rights reverted to the Siegels. Here, thanks to Deadline.Com, is the latest update, from Laura Siegel Larson, Siegel’s daughter:
October 11, 2012
Dear Superman Fans Everywhere,
My father, Jerry Siegel, co-created Superman as the “champion of the oppressed … sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!” But sadly his dying wish, for his family to regain his rightful share of Superman, has become a cautionary tale for writers and artists everywhere.
My family’s David and Goliath struggle against Warner Bros, the media conglomerate, goes back to April 1997, when my mom and I exercised our clear right under the Copyright Act to achieve my dad’s dream of recovering his copyrights. In April 1999, my dad’s half of the original Superman rights reverted to us, entitling our family to a significant share of Superman profits, which Warner/DC Comics refused to pay. For over thirteen years they have fought us at every turn, in and out of court, aiming to make recovery of the money they owe us so impossibly difficult that we would give up and settle for peanuts.
We refused to be intimidated despite my elderly mom’s heart condition and my multiple sclerosis. In 2008 the U.S. District Court ruled that my mom and I had successfully recaptured my father’s Superman copyrights and were entitled to Superman profits since April 1999.
Angered and alarmed by this defeat, Warner Bros resorted to a despicable old trick: diverting attention from the legal merits of our case by personally attacking our long-time lawyer, Marc Toberoff. Through DC, the media giant filed a lawsuit against Mr. Toberoff, my family and the Estate of Superman’s co-creator Joe Shuster, falsely claiming “unfair competition” and that Toberoff interfered with an out of court offer that Warner tried to push on my mom and me in early 2002 – an offer full of studio accounting traps that we refused to sign before we even knew Mr. Toberoff.
Warner Bros possesses documents stolen from my attorney’s office which mysteriously ended up on the desks of three top Warner executives. Warner claims it has no evidence whatsoever as to when these large packages arrived. According to Warner, the thief also included a cowardly anonymous letter that vilifies our attorney and mischaracterizes the privileged attorney-client communications enclosed. In a disgraceful violation of my privacy, Warner’s lawyers attached this nasty anonymous letter to a publicly filed complaint and leaked it to the media.
In the midst of this sideshow, my mom, the original model for Lois Lane, passed away last year at 93, still determined to keep her promise to my dad. She never got to relax and enjoy any proceeds from the crusade she fought until her dying day.
Now the torch is in my hands and I won’t be silent any longer about Warner Bros’ tactics. I refuse to be bullied or deterred from enforcing my farnily’s rights, and fully support my attorney who has tirelessly defended them. Warner Bros’ smear campaign has only made me more determined than ever. We have the right to the attorney of our choice, which is none of Warner’s business…
What Warner Bros apparently doesn’t realize is that despite their tremendous power, I will NEVER give up on my parents’ dream of rightfully restoring my father’s rights to his family.
Would Superman, the embodiment of “truth, justice and the American way,” let Warner Bros, DC Comics, and their gang of attorneys get away with this? Not for an instant!
Laura Siegel Larson
Los Angeles, California
To misquote another comics writer/creator who made a much better deal for himself because he had Jerry Siegel as an example: “Not ’nuff said.”
Not by a longshot.
Good luck, Laura!
(EDITED TO ADD: This just in. A judge has ruled that the family of Joe Shuster, the artist with whom Jerry Siegel created Supes, gave up their right to regain their percentage of control over the property by accepting a 1992 deal in which Warner Brothers agreed to pay Shuster’s sister $25,000/year for life in exchange for the rights. A-fucking-mazing! And no, not in a good way. Not at all.)