The blogosphere is more or less abuzz with the news that the Siegel family regained some rights to Action Comics #1, and therefore to the character of Superman.

Poking around a little, there seems to be a fair bit of enthusiasm on the Siegels’ behalf; a sense that, after 70 years, they’ve finally been restored their rights. Personally, though, I don’t really see it. The man who created the character is Siegel, and he is dead. His heirs didn’t do diddly — why exactly should they get the rights to the character or to Siegel’s work?

Of course, the folks currently helming DC didn’t create the character, and there’s no reason they should have ownership either. The truth is, having this sort of litigation about a character as entrenched in the popular consciousness as Superman decades and decades after his creation is insane. Or, to put it another way, copyright lasts too, too, too long. At this point whatever injustice has been done is done. Enriching the man’s grandchildren isn’t going to make up for it. Action Comics #1 should be in the public domain; anybody should be able to use that character — which would, coincidentally, and happily, put an end to the endless process of self-cannibalism “powering” the increasingly irrelevant, oddly flatulent wendigo that is DC comics today.

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