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In the 1930s, two Jewish boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, created the comic book character Superman. In 1938, badly in need of money, they sold the rights to the character for $130, to what would later become DC Comics. Superman was a huge success and generated millions in profit, but his creators got nothing. They sued, but after decades of litigation they lost: The contract they signed was found to be valid. They lived near poverty all their lives.

If they had gone to a bet din, how would halacha view the matter?

(Possible considerations: Is this type of contract valid? Is a contract valid when signed under duress (taking advantage of people in need to buy their stuff for a pittance)? Is intellectual property covered in halacha? There are "finders keepers" rules in Bava Metzia, but can we say the "find" here is the success of Superman? Does DC Comics have an ethical, if not a contractual, obligation?)

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    Why do you suspect the result would be any different? – Daniel Sep 22 '19 at 2:07
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    Was $130 a fair price at the time? If so, then what's their claim here? – Double AA Sep 22 '19 at 2:19
  • Not a rabbi or a lawyer, but they did sell the rights for $130. Maybe not very much, but they did do it. So DC Comics rightfully owned Superman. I just think the two creators got the short end of the stick because they didn't realize how popular the character would be, but that's 100% their fault. – ezra Sep 22 '19 at 4:19
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    @DoubleAA how is this a duplicate? That's about patents and this is about trademarks and copyright. – msh210 Sep 22 '19 at 8:25
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    The mentioned article says nothing about a contractual sale, much less one done under duress. – Maurice Mizrahi Sep 22 '19 at 18:07

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