Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Kirby

726 F.3d 119 (2013)

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Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Kirby

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
726 F.3d 119 (2013)

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Facts

Jack Kirby was a freelance comic-book artist. Between 1958 and 1963, most of Jack’s work was for Marvel Comics (Marvel) (plaintiff). Marvel assigned Jack projects, providing parameters for his drawings. However, Jack remained a freelancer and was paid per page accepted. In 2009, after Jack died, his children, Susan, Neal, Barbara, and Lisa (the Kirbys) (defendants), sent Marvel termination notices under § 304(c)(2) of the Copyright Act of 1976. Marvel filed suit in the Southern District of New York, seeking a declaration that the Kirbys lacked termination rights because Jack’s works were made for hire. Lisa and Neal, California residents, moved to dismiss, arguing that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. Although Barbara and Susan were New York residents, the Kirbys collectively argued that Lisa and Neal were indispensable parties under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 19 and the suit should therefore be dismissed as to all parties. Alternatively, the Kirbys argued that Jack’s drawings were not works for hire. The district court concluded that it had jurisdiction over Lisa and Neal and granted summary judgment in Marvel’s favor. The Kirbys appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sack, J.)

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