Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, judge rules

By Daniel S Levine,

Sherlock Holmes, the most famous detective in literature, is in the public domain in the U.S., a federal judge said this week.

Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois made the ruling following a case brought by editor Leslie S. Klinger in February, reports The New York Times. Klinger and Laurie R. King had edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a book with several new stories with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character. Pegasus Books, which had been set to publish the book, was nervous about doing so after the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. contacted them, requesting a fee if it was published.

Castillo disagreed that the estate could request a fee for Holmes elements introduced before 1923, since the copyright on Holmes wasn’t filed until after that. So, elements in the 10 stories published after 1923 are still protected.

Klinger also edited the massive volume Complete Annotated Sherlock Holmes and CBR notes that he advised Guy Ritchie on the director’s two Holmes films.

“Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world, and this ruling clearly establishes that,” Klinger told the Times. “People want to celebrate Holmes and Watson, and now they can do that without fear.”

Holmes is still one of the most popular fictional characters ever created and is the subject of two TV series that put him in the modern era. CBS’ Elementary finds Holmes in modern New York, while the BBC’s acclaimed Sherlock is set in modern London.

image: Amazon


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