The latest, and final, chapter in the legal struggle for Sherlock

Many fan fiction writers have been following the legal efforts of a group of Sherlockians in their pursuit to publish an anthology of fanwork without paying the hefty fee the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle alleged they were owed. The Supreme Court upheld their claim that the characters published in 1887 were outside of the 75 year copyright lockout. It is important to note that storylines and characters written after 1923 are stipulated to being still inside the copyright, and therefore not yet in the public domain.

Now the final chapter: The Court of Appeals has denied the Estate’s appeal of that decision.

More info/source: Free Sherlock blog November 2014: Petition Denied.

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Sherlock and Watson thrust into the Public Domain (in the USA)

Sherlock and Watson thrust into the Public Domain (in the USA)

A few days ago, the US District Court for part of Illinois ruled that Sherlock and Watson are in the public domain. The court case was between a Sherlockian scholar and fanfic writer Leslie S Klinger versus the Conan Doyle Estate, which stated the Sherlock was under the estates copyright since original stories were published about him post 1923.

Klinger only wanted to use pre-1923 cannon (story) and characters, and filed the civil complaint against the Estate in preparation for his (and his editor Laurie R King’s) up-coming anthology “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes” through Pegasus Books. “In the Company…” is a collection of short stories written by many different Sherlockian  fan fic writers.

This ruling has large significance. First, it clarifies and highlights that all characters created before 1923 are in the public domain. (OTW points out that this includes Borrough’s Tarzan, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and Disney’s Mickey Mouse. http://www.tranformativeworks.org)

Secondly, it’s a huge step in the direction of proper recognition and appreciation of fan fiction writing as an art form. Not only do large corporations get to re-envision tales, myths, and characters to suit their purposes, but the everyday man can do it to, and benefit from their creative products.

I’m looking forward to seeing a boom in Johnlock fic up for sale. If there is anything that fan fiction does well, it’s challenge dominant paradigms, and now we are seeing a huge opportunity for the writers.

Additional sources:

Organization for Tranformative Work’s page on Sherlock ruling: http://transformativeworks.org/news/free-sherlock-implications-summary-judgment-sherlock-holmes-case

PDF of said ruling: http://freesherlock.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/klinger-order-on-motion-for-summary-judgment-c.pdf

NYT article about this: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/sherlock-holmes-is-in-the-public-domain-american-judge-rules/?_r=0