Today brings Kirby news on the legal front—specifically, an important new development in the Marvel v. Kirby case.
The legal news site Law360, the entertainment industry news site Deadline Hollywood, and several comics news sites, such as CBR’s Robot 6 blog and Bleeding Cool, are reporting that on March 21 Jack Kirby’s heirs petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the case.
To be precise, the Kirby estate filed a petition requesting a writ of certiorari—essentially, they have asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal and reconsider the opinion handed down last August by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. That opinion reaffirmed the original ruling of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (July 2011), which had favored Marvel, denying the Kirbys’ case.
The Second Circuit’s decision last August appeared to all but close the door on Marvel v. Kirby. Though the Kirbys petitioned the Second Circuit for a rehearing, their request was denied in October. However, the March 21 petition—which from here on out I’ll refer to as the Cert Petition—may yet reopen the door, at the highest court in the land.
I refer my readers once again to attorney Jeff Trexler’s Comics Journal article from last August, “Taking Back the Kirby Case,” and to the coverage at Deadline Hollywood for a reasonably complete timeline of the case, including legal documents (the original ruling of July 2011; the Second Circuit’s appeal decision, August 2013; the Cert Petition, 21 March 2014). Over the coming week, I will try to embed PDFs of these documents right here at this blog.
I’m at a loss as far as knowing what to say about this case that I have not said before. It’s a complicated and vexing case, certainly. It’s important. Because the case centers on work-for-hire law, it keeps dragging me back to the difference between legality and justice (a point I’ve examined here previously). If the Supreme Court takes up the case—which, as so many commentators have already pointed out, is a big if—it could be a game-changer.
Suffice it to say that I wish the Kirby family success, in the name of justice and a better, more honest history of the American comic book.