Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Kirby, No. 11-3333 (2d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Defendants, the children of the late Jack Kirby, one of the most influential comic book artists of all time, appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Marvel. This case concerned the property rights in 262 works published by Marvel between 1958-1963. After defendants served various Marvel entities with Termination Notices purporting to exercise statutory termination rights under section 304(c)(2) of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 304, Marvel filed suit seeking a declaration that defendants have no termination rights under section 304(c)(2). The court concluded that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Lisa and Neal Kirby and, therefore, vacated the district court's judgment against them; Lisa and Neal are not indispensable parties and it was appropriate for the action against Barbara and Susan Kirby to have proceeded on its merits; the district court did not err in determining as a matter of law that the works at issue were "made for hire," made at Marvel's instance and expense, and that the parties had no agreement to the contrary; and the district court properly granted Marvel's motion for summary judgment as to Susan and Barbara, who were without termination rights under section 304(c).