Friday, January 24, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Copyright Issues

Can you start posting your Sherlock Holmes fan fiction now that the third season of the BBC's Sherlock has begun airing? The answer is your typical attorney response: maybe. According to a recent Publisher's Weekly article,
In a December 23 decision, an Illinois federal court held that Holmes and other characters and story elements in more than 50 Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain. But attorneys for the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this week insisted that the complete characters of Holmes and Watson won’t be freed until the final 10 stories published after 1922 enter the public domain, in 2022.
According to an attorney/Holmes scholar who brought suit against the estate,

Klinger says that ruling means that based on the more than 50 public domain stories, "creators are free to use the characters of Holmes and Watson without licensing them from the Conan Doyle Estate." He also noted, however, that the Court "cautioned that new stories about [Holmes and Watson] can't use elements that appear exclusively in the ten post-1922 stories by Conan Doyle."