Who Owns 'Adjustment Bureau' Rights?

adjustment_bureau_1Variety reports that the estate of Philip K. Dick filed suit against Media Rights Captial, director George Nolfi and producer Michael Hackett on Thursday October 28th, charging  that the company and individuals named  did not honor  their agreement to pay a share of the returns from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.
The lawsuit contends that the production made the claim that Dick’s short story The Adjustment Team, the basis for the motion picture, had actually entered the public domain, and thus was not due any share of the profits. Furthermore, the filmmakers then called for a return of previous payments for the film rights to the story.
The filmmakers (who have not offically commented) allegedly made the claim that the initial publication of The Adjustment Team in the short-lived (and long defunct)  Pulp Magazine  ORBIT Science Fiction  in 1954 was never renewed, and so lapsed into the public domain.

ORBIT #4, 1954
ORBIT #4, 1954

However, the Philip K. Dick Trust argues that Dick’s literary agent, the controversial Scott Meredith, did not inform the author or pass on the payment from the publication to the writer, and that the actual copyright to the story dates to its publication in 1973’s The Book of Philip K. Dick, a collection of his short stories.
Not being a lawyer, I can’t comment on the merits of the suit. However, to my understanding,  this subsequent publication would have been well with the then current 28-year copyright protection status of the story.
I would also tend to believe that the only rights granted to a magazine in that era would normally be for “First North American Serial Rights’ of a story, and not film or other ancillary rights.  However, some  publishers did at times make demands for additional or even all rights to the fiction they purchased.
Interestingly, the suit also contends that an anonymous user changed the Wikipedia page on the short story to indicate that The Adjustment Team was in the public domain, just days after MRC made its claims.