Lawsuits are all too common in the entertainment industry. As soon as a property becomes a product worth millions, people come out of the woodwork with claims to its fortune. A lot of the time, these are lawsuits wherein an aspiring writer with an inconvenient lack of evidence asserts their idea was stolen. There are times, however, when the victim in question has a legitimate, undeniable claim to a property, but contracts and the strict letter of the law denies it to them. That's the ongoing struggle writer Gary Friedrich currently finds himself in.
Basically, Friedrich created the character of Ghost Rider for Marvel in the '70s. It's not a matter of dispute, it's just a fact. Marvel owns the rights to the character and has ever since Friedrich signed his creation over to them three decades ago. However, before the first Ghost Rider film was released, Friedrich sued all involved under the belief that while Marvel undoubtedly owned the comic rights, he owned the film rights and should be involved both creatively and financially. He lost that lawsuit. That's not where things ended, though.
Friedrich has since made no further claims to the ownership of the character, he has, however, attempted to rightfully claim authorship of him in his private life. He's attended comics conventions and the likes as a paid guest, using his status as the creator of an iconic comic (and now film) character as his main source of income now that he's 68 years old. However, Marvel is still demanding in a court of law that Friedrich pay them the approximately $17,000 he's earned in retirement by acknowledging he's the creator of Ghost Rider.
Yes, you read that correctly. Marvel, a company that was recently purchased by Disney for $4 billion, is demanding that the person who created one of its most iconic and enduring characters - a person who is now 68 years old and is more or less broke after years of legal struggle - pay them his remaining $17,000 for having the gall to make money off of his history with the character.
Obviously Marvel has every right to prevent Friedrich, or any other artist who sold one of their creations to the company, from trying to steal their profits by exercise ownership over the character and, for example, selling new comics, but that's not what he's doing. All Friedrich is doing is exercising his authorship of the character. To try and legally squelch him from doing even that is just downright petty. And yet that's exactly what they're seeking with this new court ruling. Not only are they demanding the money, which is barely enough to even buy a new car these days, but they're demanding that Friedrich be legally prohibited from saying he even created the character if there is any conceivable way he can gain from stating such facts.
Sure, there's little question to the legality of what Marvel is doing, but what about the morality of it? Does it make you view Marvel any differently? Will it have any impact on whether or not you pay to go see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance knowing that not a fraction of a penny of your ticket price will end up in Friedrich's bank account, or that you won't even see his name in the credits?
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Marvel, Ghost Rider 2
I don't understand what is going on. I get he can't write any Ghostrider books etc but how can he be stopped from saying he is the creator??
If i sold you a car it would be your car but I could still point to it and say I USED to own that car. Totally don't get how Disney can do this legally or morally.
if i was the creator Id be ashamed and embarrassed to admit i created Ghost Rider after two horrible movies were made.
Have you seen the second one yet?
Well, I wasn't planning on seeing the movie anyway (not a big fan of the first Ghost Rider movie), but what Marvel is doing is making me doubt whether I want to go see any of their future movies.
Hey we should not put down Disney or Marvel. we don't no the hole story. This guy tryed to sue marvel before. If he had just had it in writing permission to use the Ghost as a petty income then I am sure it would have worked out. He got greedy and and took the fall. And sometimes it happens. I knew Stan Lee real well. I met him and Jack Kirby in San Diego my home town back when the comic Con got started. Then I used to visit him in his little office in Westwood near the pastport offices at the Goverment building. At that time there Marvel was near backrupcy. I would talk to Stan the man about Marvels up and coming down fall. It was pretty bad back then. Stan was in real low spirits . I told him if only some one would make a big movie.
Really? The man is a paid guest at conventions as the creator, which he is. And they want to sue him because he got money for that? Is DC/Warner Brothers going to sue Adam West for making paid appearances at comic conventions because he was the '60's TV Bataman? Shatner/ Nimoy for Star Trek? No, because that would be a PR nightmare. Fredrich is unknown compare to them which is easier to be picked on...Disney is a real bully.
I had plans to see the new Ghost Rider movie, but now I will have to protest this by not going to see this movie.
This is why we should support independent comics and artists, it sends a message to the corporations. Spend your dollars morally people.
One word: BOYCOTT !
BOYCOTT is the right move - but we should boycott ALL DISNEY films - and make sure they know why its happening by creating a big letter-writing campaign. And what about ABC TV?
Stan Lee and Nicholas Cage should spearhead the movement to give some artistic and monetary recognition to character creators. Disney is well known for "protecting" their property to the extent of sueing any and all who would not pay the proper fees to use Snow White...small day care centers,etc.
Marvel, stop listenng to your heartless money hungery monster lawyers and give the little guy a small break. You have already whup his behind. The message is clear, don't tangle with Marvel unless you are willing to pay the price.. So now, be the "bigger" entity and give the little guy a break.
You have already gotten your message across, the lawyers like all of them are heartless unless it being done to them. marvel, Disney I implore you for public relation sake, do not listen to the evil hungry lawyers, you know deep down what lawyers are, give the break, you know like what would one of your super heroes do? What would Ghost Rider do? The man has already paid the price for tangling with you and I quite sure he will not do that again
Ever since Marvel got Disneyfied, things have been going to hell in a hand basket.
I wasn't sure if I was going to see the movie or not. Now it is a not going.
This is messed up. Ever since Disney bought Marvel (which is a catastrophy), the company has gone to hell. Who the ___ comes up with these atrocious lawsuits? Dude, this could happen to Stan Lee. So in the future, will Marvel start demanding that fans should pay tribute everytime they say a copyrighted name like Spiderman or Thor? But this is not Marvel's fault. People should recognize that it's those big cats up at Disney who's behind this outrage (you know those who molests children and say that the comics at Marvel are too graphic).
Marvel should be ashamed of itself. Comic companies screwed Siegel & Shuster, Jack Kirby, and many, many others. Marvel should pay its creators large, lifelong pensions so that they would not have to essentially panhandle at conventions. Without these talented creators. Marvel would have NOTHING to sell to Hollywood. Give Marv Wolfman a piece of Blade's action. Give Friedman a part of Ghost Rider's action. Same with Claremont for x-Men. Enough Marvel, you corporate pig!
the writers shouldn't of been so naive, a contract is a contract
Yeah, a contract's a contract. I'm thinking about basic fairness. When these creators signed these adhesion contracts with the DC/Marvel monopoly (before the modern era of creator rights in the comic book medium), did they think that multimillion dollar movies (another medium entirely) would be based on their creations? Would they have signed these contracts had they known? Is it fair that noncreative Marvel stockholders make more money than the creators of Ghost Rider, Superman, etc.?
the writer was naive,
a contract is a contract
Let the simple beware
Have you read the contract at issue? I wish I had a copy. I'm sure that it is a one sided adhesion contract, that Mike did not have his attorney read it, and that it says nothing about movies.
As an avid comic book buyer, I find what Marvel is doing to be REPREHENSIBLE. Someone at that company needs to be smacked, and I need to reconsider spending my money with Marvel.
While Marvel is taking the (totally justifiable) blame, remember that “Marvel” no longer exists. Marvel is now part of the evil empire called DISNEY. While Marvel is the one doing the suing, Disney is the one pulling the strings - and Disney has a long history of greed and of screwing everyone it can. When Disney bought the Henson Workshop and all his muppet characters, Disney threatened to sue the Children’s Television Workshop because CTW wouldn’t sell the rights of Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, etc. to them. The same thing is true with Peter Pan - Disney tried to take the character and the story away from the charity hospital who were given it under Barry’s will. No one is more petty than Disney.
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