Gary Friedrich Enterprises, LLC v. Marvel Characters, Inc., involves a work created before the Copyright Act of 1976, the vesting of the renewal copyright in the original author, Gary Friedrich, and the effect of a work made for hire agreement signed by Friedrich in 1978. Friedrich, creator of the Ghost Rider comic strip, filed and received a Renewal Copyright Registration for Ghost Rider in 2007. Friedrich filed a complaint against Marvel for copyright infringement shortly after renewing Ghost Rider’s copyright registration. Marvel claimed that Ghost Rider was a work made for hire.
The district court ruled that when Friedrich executed a form work for hire agreement in 1978, he assigned his rights to Marvel, including his rights in the renewal term. The district court further granted Marvel’s motion for summary judgment, awarded damages to Marvel for Friedrich’s copyright infringement and enjoined Friedrich from using his Ghost Rider renewal registration. The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the case.