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When Will Superman Be in Public Domain?

Superman is one of the many superheroes from DC Comics. He first appeared on the cover of Action Comics #1 and has several cartoons, series, and movies based on his character. But did you know he will be entering the public domain soon?  

Superman will be available in the public domain by 2033. This means that anyone who would want to produce material related to Superman will be able to do so without fear of getting into a lawsuit. However, in the 2033 public domain, Superman can’t fly.

The History of Superman

Superman was a character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the early 1930s while they were still residing in Cleveland, Ohio. Initially, they developed Superman to be a villain but later on considered making him the hero instead. Siegel and Shuster attempted to turn Superman into a daily comic strip in 1936, but their attempt was unsuccessful.

Siegel and Shuster then gained employment with DC-National Comics, and in 1939, their pitch for Superman was approved by the company. Superman became a storyline in the company’s Action Comics series.

DC Comics, later on, developed Superman’s comic series, responding to the character’s popularity in Action comics. Siegel and Shuster were still in charge of the storyline and illustration of the Superman comics but were reported to grow increasingly unhappy with their jobs.

In the same year, the two signed over their rights to the character to the comic book company for only $130. In the succeeding years, Superman became the most important and most popular character in the DC universe, which made a lot of money for the company. (Source: Ohio History Central)

Soon enough, Superman was everywhere. From comics to toys, novels, coloring books, and even bubble gum. The Man of Steel even had a radio show in the early forties. Superman initially had limited powers, but when Fawcett Comics introduced Captain Marvel, the writers of Superman tried their best to match Captain Marvel’s powers.

The Man of Steel has seen many revisions to its persona, supporting characters, enemies, and the entire universe through different writers and illustrators. The Man of Steel Siegel and Shuster initially created is far from the Zack Snyder Superman we know of today. (Source: Britannica)

Superman Entering the Public Domain

The Copyright Act is a law that protects creative works to be used without specific consent or agreements from the original owner or company who owns the rights to the work. However, the Act is limited to 95 years from the first publication.

Superman was first published in 1938, so the Act is only applicable for 95 years from 1938. This means that the Man of Steel will enter the public domain by 2033. Once the superhero enters the public domain, anyone who wants to use the hero in their work is legally allowed to do so.

However, the version of Superman they would be able to use by 2033 is the very first version of the caped hero. Superman’s power of flight wasn’t introduced until a few years after being published in Action Comics. Anyone who would remake or use Superman in their work would also have to use the hero’s old uniform. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

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