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Trouble In Smallville

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Trouble In Smallville

Old 04-05-06, 04:10 PM
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Trouble In Smallville

From IMDB Studio Briefing:

A federal judge in Los Angeles has poured Kryptonite over The WB's Smallville, granting a summary judgment to the widow and daughter of Jerry Siegel, one of the two creators of the Superman character. As reported by Daily Variety, the ruling by Judge Ronald S.W. Lew observed that Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured the copyright to Superboy in 2004; it also denied a request by Time Warner, Warner Bros, and DC Comics to issue a ruling that Smallville did not infringe on Superboy copyrights. "Enough facts are presented, where this court, contrary to defendants' request, could find that the main character in Smallville is in fact Superboy," the judge ruled. Warner Bros. told the trade paper that it plans an appeal.
Old 04-05-06, 04:35 PM
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This is not a suprise to me. I always thought it was Superboy.
Old 04-05-06, 04:40 PM
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I wonder if this is why there seem to be some of the gossip types who wonder if Smallville will make it to CW.
Old 04-05-06, 04:42 PM
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This is very tricky... especially if lawyers want to play with semantics

  • Superboy should, by definition, be a boy. Clark is now 18+ and is played by a 29-year old. Can the courts rule that a "boy?"
  • Superboy is usually characterized with a costume and flying dog. Smallville has had neither.
  • The story of Smallville is "based" on the traditional Superman mythos, buty everyone can agree they've created a whole new mythos of their own.
  • Can the courts prove a difference between a SuperBOY story and and a SuperMAN prequel/young Superman story?


To me, the gray area is too deep for a court to make a black/white decision.

Last edited by GuessWho; 04-05-06 at 06:05 PM.
Old 04-05-06, 04:45 PM
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Never followed Superman comics, but was Superboy always just a young Superman or was he another Kryptonian?
Old 04-05-06, 04:54 PM
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Just change the names.

Smallville = Tinyville
Clark = Clarence
Lois = Louise
Lana = Laura Linney ... no wait that won't work
Lex = Lance
Chloe = Chloe ... I knew she was the key to this show
Old 04-05-06, 06:10 PM
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Isn't this more of a Clark Kent show, and not a Superman/boy/anything show?
Old 04-05-06, 11:38 PM
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Don't really think they'll win this case.

Probably one of the reasons why the creators/producers choose to have Clark Kent in this series be "no tights/no flights" was specifically a safeguard for this very reason. If he's not in the traditional costume, it makes it that much harder for some one else to say - "it's Superboy, because he's in a Superboy/man costume."
Old 04-06-06, 12:04 AM
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But I would think,

wouldn't they also own Clark Kent,Lois Lane etc, as these characters were created with Superman? So they could sue for that as well. They might as well just settle it really, as the only way to truly get out of it would be for Clark to turn out NOT to be Superman. Which would be REALLY interesting to be honest. Talk about a nutty last season!
Old 04-06-06, 12:16 AM
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GuessWho got skills, will you be my personal lawyer

Lex = Lance
rofl rofl
Old 04-06-06, 01:15 AM
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It's an interesting case. I didn't even know copyright holders and heirs could regain copyright like these woman have. The copyright was sold to National Comics nearly sixty years ago. How can they get it back? And since Superman was sold to National Comics at the same time, why couldn't they get the rights to the adult character back, as well (I guess that could be pending)?

And it is strange to think that the show could be found to infringe, but only since November, 2004 (since DC Comics controlled the copyright prior to that). The fact that they have to rely on stuff past Season 3 only to prove their infringement suit would certainly seem to make it more difficult to win.
Old 04-06-06, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDan
The fact that they have to rely on stuff past Season 3 only to prove their infringement suit would certainly seem to make it more difficult to win.
Not like much has happened other than Clark and Lana breaking up. Over and over again.

Spoiler:
Oh yeah, and Pa Kent died.
Old 04-06-06, 01:44 AM
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From what little is said above, it sounds like they have *won* and the only recourse would be appeal.

ETA: Based on this link, it would appear that I'm wrong. They only got partial summary judgment. It sounds like WB plans to appeal. This case appears to still have life in it after all.

Last edited by Jimmy James; 04-06-06 at 01:51 AM.
Old 04-06-06, 01:59 AM
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Yeah, they're attempt to recapture the copyright has been ruled legal and effective (which Warners will appeal). Whether the Smallville show from Season 4 and beyond infringes on that copyright will be a different case.
Old 04-06-06, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDan
Yeah, they're attempt to recapture the copyright has been ruled legal and effective (which Warners will appeal). Whether the Smallville show from Season 4 and beyond infringes on that copyright will be a different case.
I heard, a few years back, that once the correct amount of time had gone by, the S&S heirs were going to go after the SuperMAN copyright. Did they try and only get SuperBOY? I'm curious as to what went down.

Also, the creative decision behind Smallville had nothing to do with copyright concerns, it was all creative vision. Superheros weren't an easy TV sell, but Dawson's Creek/X-Files was.
Old 04-06-06, 02:52 AM
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Looking around the Internet, the Siegel family has apparently tried to get the Superman copyright back, as well, but it has not been decided that they have successfully done so, so far.

Apparently, the way the law was written, Shuster's family apparently couldn't reclaim Shuster's half of the Superman character at that time, so that remains with DC Comics regardless of what happens until at least 2013. Siegel's family filed their attempt to regain Siegel's half of the Superman character in 1997, which would've become effective in 1999. Apparently this is still being litigated. I don't know why the Superboy stuff apparently got to court first.
Old 04-06-06, 03:49 AM
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Here's a link to a Variety story that goes into some detail about how the copyright was established and changed hands:

Variety story abour Smallville/Superboy dispute

Of interest (to me) in the article, the judge in this case --Judge Lew, based his decision after reviewing the rulings of a Judge Young, who sat on a Superboy copyright dispute in 1947.
I'm no legal eagle, but if precedent means anything, and this Judge Lew thinks it does, then the Siegel family may have a leg up on The WB.

Plus, there's this note at the end of the article, that the Siegel's lawyer is Marc Toberoff who
Toberoff, a specialist in intellectual property, represented Robert B. Clark in his suit against Warner Bros., which was settled last year for at least $17.5 million for infringing on the copyright to the 1974 film "Moonrunners" by making the feature "The Dukes of Hazzard." "Moonrunners" became the basis of the Warner TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard."
$17.5 mil for that crappy Dukes movies!
I'd expect the Siegel family to get a nice fat settlement for Smallville, considering all the money they have wrapped up in the TV series and the relaunching of the Superman movie franchise
Old 04-06-06, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Draven
Never followed Superman comics, but was Superboy always just a young Superman or was he another Kryptonian?

Oh man, you don't want to open that can of worms. It'll lead to the multi-verse and all the confussion in that.
Old 04-06-06, 05:46 AM
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If this is their only defense ...

"In their legal responses to the Superboy suit, Time Warner and its co-defendants had contended Superboy was simply a younger version of Superman and that Superboy was "work for hire" solely owned by its predecessors. But Lew said those arguments were unpersuasive in light of rulings made by Judge Young in the 1947 trial."

... TW will be ponying up some cash and then buying the rights (if allowed).
Old 04-06-06, 06:25 AM
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A little bit more reading around tells me that:
(1) Smallville being the name of the town where Clark Kent grew up;
(2) a character named Lana Lang who was the young Clark Kent's love interest; and
(3) the story of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor being friends who became enemies
--all originated in Superboy comic, not the Superman comic, and it's the Superboy comic to which the Siegel family holds the copyright.

Time Warner (et al) claim that this TV series is just a story of the young Superman, a character to which they own the copyright.

But considering that (at least) three such major elements of the TV series are directly drawn from another copyrighted work, Superboy, I don't see how the claims of their defense will hold up.
Old 04-06-06, 07:56 AM
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So what does this mean for retards like me? Does the WB have to stop airing Smallville? Or is it just that the WB has to pay the family the rights to use Smallville?
Old 04-06-06, 08:02 AM
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Its all about the money
Old 04-06-06, 08:18 AM
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This is silly.

I know Siegel & Shuster sold superman for a song and now he's controlled by a media giant and all that but, c'mon.

First of all, I don't know how a court would revert copyright back to the Siegel family from DC Comics (Warner Bros.) in the first place but regardless, isn't everything on Smallville is copyrighted and owned by DC.

Clark Kent
Lana Lang
Lex Luthor
Lois Lane
John & Martha Kent
Smallville
Daily Planet
Metropolis

All these things appear regularly in DC Comics currently with no impact on the Superboy copyright. The other characters are original to the show so, again, no impact.

So I guess the question is: is Superboy an image (kid in tights) or a concept (Superman when he was young & living in Smallville)?
Old 04-06-06, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackskeleton
Oh man, you don't want to open that can of worms. It'll lead to the multi-verse and all the confussion in that.
I figured it wasn't going to be a simple answer.
Old 04-06-06, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Count Dooku
A little bit more reading around tells me that:
(1) Smallville being the name of the town where Clark Kent grew up;
(2) a character named Lana Lang who was the young Clark Kent's love interest; and
(3) the story of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor being friends who became enemies
--all originated in Superboy comic, not the Superman comic, and it's the Superboy comic to which the Siegel family holds the copyright.

Time Warner (et al) claim that this TV series is just a story of the young Superman, a character to which they own the copyright.

But considering that (at least) three such major elements of the TV series are directly drawn from another copyrighted work, Superboy, I don't see how the claims of their defense will hold up.
Interesting, but both Smallville & Lana are represented in the SuperMAN films, how does that fit in?

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