Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Mar 10, 2014 15:37:32 GMT -6
In the battle over the copyrights to the original Masters of the Universe minicomics, it’s Mattel that has the power of Grayskull.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a federal judge last week sided with the toymaker in its 2013 lawsuit against writer Donald Glut, who claimed he created the characters in 1981, owns the copyrights and merely licenses them to Mattel (a license, he said, that would expire in 2016).
The company insisted Glut was commissioned to write “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds” and “King of Castle Grayskull” and to create backstories for He-Man and other characters under the direction of the toymaker. Mattel noted the writer acknowledged as recently as 2001 that the minicomics were work for hire for which he received neither credit nor royalties. Besides, the toymaker argued, if there were any confusion about the rights, Glut had a legal obligation to come forward years ago.
Glut’s attorneys countered that his delay wasn’t unreasonable, as he believed his claim fell within the termination period stipulated by U.S. copyright law. But Mattel insisted that because the minicomics were work for hire, Glut never owned the copyright to be able to license or terminate it.
Glut, who wrote the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, also penned episodes of such animated series as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Transformers and Centurions, as well as issues of Marvel’s Captain America, Conan Saga, The Invaders. Kull the Destroyer and The Savage Sword of Conan.
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Mar 10, 2014 17:33:46 GMT -6
Nearly eight months after filing a lawsuit claiming at least some ownership stake in several Masters of the Universe characters, writer Donald Glut has come up short. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real has determined that toymaker Mattel owns the franchise and all its characters lock, stock and barrel, just in time for a proposed movie reboot from Sony. Glut asserted that he had an ownership stake in the characters because of four 1981 mini-comics he wrote: “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds,” and “King of Castle Grayskull.” Those comics, which were packaged with the MOTU toys, established backstories for He-Man, Skeletor Teela and the rest of the gang. Glut said Mattel couldn’t produce the work-for-hire agreement he signed, and contended that he licensed the stories to the company. Mattel argued that Glut waited far too log to assert ownership — 33 years, in fact — and had definitely created the characters under a work-for-hire agreement. Currently, DC Comics holds the Masters of the Universe comics license. Beyond writing the MOTU comics, Glut has worked on cartoons including Transformers, DuckTales and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. He also just plain has a thing for dinosaurs. He wrote, directed and co-produced the movie Dinosaur Valley Girls and co-founded Fossil Records, whose output includes the album “Dinosaur Tracks.” His other film credits include The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula and Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood. He also created a surprisingly good Spider-Man fan film back in 1969.
A federal judge has sided with Mattel in its claim that it fully owns the rights to “Masters of the Universe,” despite a writer’s contention that his work on four comics packaged with the action figures entitled him to an ownership interest in the franchise.
Mattel sued writer Donald Glut in June, arguing that the writer had been claiming an interest in He-Man even though his work for the toy company was “for-hire.” Glut was enlisted in 1981 to create a backstory for Mattel’s Masters of the Universe product line, and the result was four mini-comics that were packaged with the characters.
But Glut, in his own motion for summary judgment, said that the comicbooks were based on a treatment he submitted to Mattel called “The Fighting Foe-Men.” His attorneys argued that he licensed the material to the toymaker, and that they otherwise needed to present a written contract describing his work as “for-hire.”
He served a notice of termination on “The Fighting Foe-Men” in August, exercising a portion of the Copyright Act of 1976 that gave authors the ability to recapture licenses to their works after a certain period. The exception are works made “for hire,” meaning that the employer who commissions a work is the statutory author.
Mattel argued that Glut had himself called his work one that was “for hire” in an interview in 2001 that was posted on his website, but then “dramatically changed his story.” They also claim that he waited too long to assert a claim for ownership.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real granted summary judgment to Mattel in an oral ruling last week.
The He-Man characters became a popular cartoon series in the 1980s, helping to ignite a wave of animation based on toy lines. Sony and Escape Artists are developing a new feature film based on the characters.
Larry Iser, Kristen Spanier and Chad Fitzgerald of Kinsella, Weitzman, Iser, Kump & Aldisert represented Mattel. Kathryn Lee Boyd, Sherli Shamtoub and Kristen Nelson of Schwarcz, Rimberg, Boyd & Rader represented Glut.