The famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes experienced a renaissance when new breath was given to him by Robert Downey, Dr. in the Guy Richie films and, more recently, in the television shows Sherlock and Elementary. Since then, the copyright status of Detective Holmes has become a subject of much debate and, inearly 2013, scholar Leslie Klinger brought suit a to determine who indeed owned
In a suit brought against the estate of the detectives creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Klinger asked the courts to rule that the characters and other elements featured in 46 short stories and 4 novels (published from 1887 through 1922) are now in the public domain. A ruling in his favor would leave him, and others, free to sell their own adaptations of the Sherlock universe without any need to seek licenses from the Doyle estate.
The Supreme Court laid the issue to rest once and for all and Klinger got just what he wanted. On November 3, 2014, the Supreme Court did so by refusing to
because their features had been changed in later stories. Accordingly, any copyrights covering the elements of the Sherlock Holmes stories written prior to 1923 are now expired.
grant an appeal by the Doyle estate and by upholding a decision by the 7th Circuit. This decision held copyright protection in Conan Doyle’s characters, many of which are now more than 125 years old, could not be extended simply.
We’re curious to know which Sherlock stories would you like to reimagine?