Court: Sherlock Lives In Public Domain

A US court has ruled that Sherlock Holmes – along with 46 stories and four novels he’s appeared in, not to mention the adaptations starring such as Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbund (pictured) – is in the public domain. The decision reaffirms the expiration of the copyright once owned by the estate of Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle. The ruling by the seventh US circuit court of appeals in Chicago comes after the Doyle estate threatened to sue the editor of a book of original Holmes fiction if the author didn’t pay licensing fees. Doyle’s estate contacted Leslie Klinger in 2011, when he was about to publish an anthology of original fiction starring Holmes, A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon. The estate demanded publisher Random House pay $5,000 in licensing fees for the use of the Holmes character. Random House paid the fees, even though Klinger thought that the Holmes stories were in the public domain.

Leave a Comment