Sherlock Holmes Escapes the Grip of His Creator's Estate

BUT WHAT ABOUT MY HOPE/CROSBY SLASHFIC? CAN I STILL PUBLISH THAT?DC ComicsIt is legal to publish stories about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson without the permission of their creator's estate, because those characters are in the public domain. That's a straightforward reading of current copyright law, and the Seventh Circuit confirmed it yesterday, upholding a lower court's ruling that Holmes fan Leslie Klinger has the right to edit an anthology of Sherlock stories by contemporary writers.

It's a welcome decision. The argument offered by Arthur Conan Doyle's estate rested on the fact that 10 Sherlock stories were published after 1923 and therefore have not yet entered the public domain. Because those stories introduced new elements to Holmes' and Watson's fictional lives, the estate's attorneys claimed that the characters were not fully created until after 1923 and therefore aren't in the public domain after all. At a time when copyright terms are constantly being extended into the future, the estate was effectively attempting to enact a stealth extension into the past.

It was an absurd argument, and Judge Richard Posner swatted it down gracefully. His decision is embedded below.

Klinger v. Doyle Estate

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  • Libertymike||

    Agreed, but you will never, ever hear me proclaim, "Brilliant, my dear Posner!"

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Sugarfree can legally defile Sherlock Holmes now?

    I have mixed feelings.

  • ||

    He could already defile Lovecraft. Isn't that twisted enough?

  • John||

    And after what Vanneman does to the Holmes stories, is there really anything SF could do to further degrade them?

  • ||

    You know, John, I had forgotten about that. Thanks a lot.

  • 110 Lean||

    Sugarfree can legally defile Sherlock Holmes now?

    Anal Vanneman has been doing that for years.

  • Alan Vanneman||


  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Can we work in a Game of Thrones reference relating to this decision?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I've never read any of the original Holmes stories. Are they anywhere near as gay as the Guy Ritchie movies?

  • John||

    No. I really don't understand why Richie decided to make Watson and Holmes gay. They were not in the books.

    Those movies did have Rachael McAdams and Kelly Reilly. So there is that. Reilly is a goddess.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Strangely for an English author, no.

  • Stickler Meeseeks||

    If you would like to see a great rendering of Sherlock Holmes, check out the series produced in the 80s featuring Jeremy Brett as Holmes.

    In terms of acting, story and atmosphere, this series is simply brilliant.

  • Pro Libertate||

    At last, my "The Giant Rat of Sumatra" can be published.

  • John||

    Not before my "Chihuahua of the Sierra Madre" is.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Does yours have the Lifeforce vampire?

  • ||

    You mean this?

  • Pro Libertate||

    What? Ripped off before I even wrote the story? I'll sue!

  • CE||

    Or my "The Rodents of Unusual Size of Asia"

  • WTF||

    Now, if we could only get them to stop extending copyright protection for Disney.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "Mickey, the Giant Rat of Sumatra."

  • Brett L||

    I think just the opposite. If they would just stop altering copyright law for everyone so the Mouse stays happy, it would be better. Just give Disney a permanent exemption based on some bullshit reason and return the copyright to a minor injustice, not a giant perversion, of the free market system.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's truly and amazingly ironic is how many Disney properties are derivative of non-Disney works.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or maybe "hypocritical" is a better word.

  • Brett L||

    Shh. You know better than to talk that way in this state. Disney is a loving and caring master who never makes us bow and scrape.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I defy the Mouse and its oppressive ways.

  • Brett L||

    Report to Epcot for reconditioning!

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've already been there for the Food & Wine Re-Education. Pretty expensive for a mass brainwashing operation.

  • CE||

    It's hard to believe that Reason would be lauding the appropriation of private property by "the public". Haven't you guys read Spooner?

  • robc||

    Umm, how is something i write the property of some dead guy?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Doyle's dead, let his 'estate' do their own work if they want royalties.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Even Inspector Lestrade could see through the estate's arguments, lol


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