Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sherlock Holmes a public (domain) figure...

Just before Christmas, a federal judge in the United States issued a ruling that the iconic character of Sherlock Holmes, as well as other characters created by the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle prior to 1923 in the series, were in the public domain and could be used by others without having to apply to the late author's estate (which apparently consists of distant family members, if that) for a license.

The court case arose when the Doyle estate contacted and sought to extract a license fee from authors Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King for a book they were co-editing, IN THE COMPANY OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. There are some interesting issues surrounding copyright, licensor bullying, and accusations of 'copyfraud', which have reared their heads across the publishing and creative worlds when it comes to the use of long ago characters, and just who is entitled to what and when.

You can read more about the case result, including comments from Klinger, here.

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