Look, I get that comics fans, if there is even the slightest hint of having their precious weekly comic flow interrupted, will throw a collective hissy, not unlike a three-year-old who has not yet gotten his juice. (Actually, this is unfair. Juice is a lot more important than comics are.) And I understand that a lot of comics fans have the legal sense of your average groundhog.
But, for the life of me, I don’t understand this argument, which I have seen advanced numerous times around the internets:
“Siegel and Shuster’s heirs do not deserve to control the rights to Superman, because they had nothing to do with his creation.”
See, that first part is fine. It’s a perfectly reasonable – if someone brutal – argument for expiry into the public domain upon creator’s death, and I actually agree with the general thrust of it, seeing as how I think public domain rights are being steadily trampled in favor of corporations. The problem is that the unspoken (or, hell, even spoken) corollary of this argument is:
“DC Comics deserves to control the rights to Superman.”
There is nobody working at DC Comics today who was involved in the development of the key elements of Superman, you know. Not a one. They’re all dead, or extremely, extremely retired. I can understand the argument that the Siegel estate doesn’t deserve a share of Superman at this point; the co-argument that a legal fiction does, however, completely contradicting the basis of the first argument, is just stupid.