Warner Brothers and DC comics have lost a little bit of Superman, and could lose him completely come 2013. Judge Stephen Larson has given Superman's co-creator Jerry Siegel rights to additional works in the franchise, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic strip and early issues of both Action Comics and Superman comics. According to Variety, this means that the Siegel estate now owns the rights to all depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-L and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-L, and the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.
What this means for Warner Brothers and DC Comics is that they've lost a little more control over certain aspects of the Superman character. DC still owns other important elements like Superman's ability to fly, the term kryptonite, the Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White characters, Superman's vision powers and expanded origins. The main point to this lawsuit is figuring out how much the Siegels are owed from profits WB and DC collected from Superman since 1999, when the heirs legally took back half of the Superman copyright.
In a statement, the two companies said, "Warner and DC Comics are pleased that the court has affirmed that the vast majority of key elements associated with the Superman character that were developed after Action Comics No. 1 are not part of the copyrights that the plaintiffs have recaptured and therefore remain solely owned by DC Comics." That is all well and good, but copyright law dictates that full ownership of Superman goes back to the Siegels in 2013. This will give the Siegels the chance to set up Superman pics, TV shows and other projects at another studio away from Warner Brothers.