I haven't had time to read the full judgement yet in the appellate court's recent decision in Marvel's favor in Marvel v Kirby.
What I have had time to read is multiple otherwise-reliable comics sites getting the basic facts of the case wrong -- indeed, the most basic fact of the case, which is who sued whom.
Matt D Wilson's article on the story at ComicsAlliance says,
Kirby’s heirs brought their suit over the characters in 2009, as the push to make huge-grossing movies featuring characters Kirby co-created (like The Avengers, which has made more than $1.5 billion) was really heating up. Marvel and parent company Disney countersued the next year.
(Wilson also incorrectly claims that the rights to the Silver Surfer were part of the dispute -- they weren't; the dispute concerns works created between 1958 and 1963, and the Surfer first appeared in 1966 -- and then misspells Gary Friedrich's name.)
Heidi McDonald's piece at Comics Beat -- a site which is ordinarily one of the best for coverage of comic book copyright disputes, due to lawyer Jeff Trexler's contributions -- is titled "Marvel wins appeal in lawsuit brought by Jack Kirby’s heirs", and its first sentence also refers to "a lawsuit bought by Jack Kirby’s heirs". Which is fucking baffling considering that right there on the same page Ms. McDonald has embedded a PDF named marvel-v-kirby.pdf that starts out like this:
Marvel Characters, Inc. v. KirbyUNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
August Term, 2012
(Argued: October 24, 2012 Decided: August 8, 2013)
Docket No. 11-3333-cv
MARVEL CHARACTERS, INCORPORATED, MARVEL WORLDWIDE,
INCORPORATED, MVL RIGHTS, LLC,
WALT DISNEY COMPANY, MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT, INCORPORATED,
- v -
LISA R KIRBY, NEAL L. KIRBY, SUSAN N. KIRBY, BARBARA J.
Before: CABRANES, SACK, and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.
Again, I haven't had time to read the full judgement yet -- but Heidi McDonald apparently hasn't had time to read the first line, the list of parties, or the filename.
And look, I really like Heidi McDonald, and I really like Comics Beat. But I think this is terrible. It's one thing for somebody in the comments section to spout the common misconception that the Kirbys sued Marvel -- hell, it's pretty much a given! --, but it's another entirely to see it in the headline on a reputable site.
The Kirbys did not sue Marvel in 2009. They filed for termination of copyright transfer. Marvel sued them in 2010; only then did the Kirbys countersue.
I am sure that this is an honest mistake, on McDonald's part, on Wilson's part, probably on the part of some (but certainly not all) the people who repeat the same misinformation in various comments sections across the comics Internet.
But while it may be an honest mistake, it is not a trivial one.
Facts are important. Details are important. The question of who sued whom is important.
The claim that the Kirbys sued Marvel in 2009 is false. That is not a matter of opinion; it is not subject to dispute. The Kirbys did not sue Marvel in 2009 -- that is a fact.
Any narrative which maintains that the Kirbys sued first is, likewise, false, and presents an incorrect, misleading picture of the very nature of the suit.
And that even someone like Heidi McDonald, who is sympathetic to the Kirbys, has inadvertently bought into and repeated the false narrative that they sued first says a lot about how pervasive that narrative has become.