MOVIES

Superman, Batman And More DC Characters Enter The Public Domain Sooner Than You Think

The kinds of projects we’re likely to see as a result of these copyrights expiring are only limited to the artist’s or creator’s imagination to some degree. However, as pointed out above, they will have to operate under the rules these characters had in their stories when they first came out. For example, Superman will not be able to fly initially, as the original version of the hero could only “leap over tall buildings in a single bound.” On the other hand, the CW superhero drama “Smallville” used this, as well as the absence of the character’s iconic suit, as a self-imposed rule and was still able to thrive for 10 seasons.

While the impending countdown on these established heroes and villains doesn’t seem to bode very well for DC, there are other factors worth considering during this transitional period. Over 20 years ago, Jay Kogan, DC’s deputy general counsel, saw this storm coming and came up with a series of countermeasures to help protect these properties. He suggested making regular changes to help keep the current design and mythology of the characters more distinctive to modern fans. 

“Keep ’em fresh and up-to-date,” he wrote (per Variety). “By gradually changing the literary and visual characteristics of a character over time, a character owner can keep whatever the then-current image of the character is as the de facto standard in the public consciousness.”

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