An Illinois judge has ruled that Sherlock Holmes and the bulk of his mythology are now public domain in the United States, making it now a lot easier to put out stories featuring the genius detective and his partner Doctor Watson. From The New York Times:
A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works that Arthur Conan Doyle published before Jan. 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law, and can therefore be freely used by others without paying any licensing fee to the writer’s estate.
This is big news considering the recent resurgence of Holmes as a marketable figure with two popular television series and a semi-popular film series. Not everything is out from under the thumb of copyright just yet, but the bulk of the ideas are now free for interpretation across media.
Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, stated that elements introduced in Holmes stories published after 1923 — such as the fact that Watson played rugby for Blackheath, or had a second wife — remain under copyright in the United States.
But the judge rejected what he called the estate’s “novel legal argument” that the characters remain under copyright because, it claimed, they were not truly completed until Conan Doyle published his last Holmes story in 1927. (via)
I’m sure Tumblr is just on fire at this announcement. This comes hot on the heels of the trailer for season 3 of BBC’s Sherlock and the season premiere on January 19th. Between this and The Hobbit, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be Buttercup Cumbersnatch. Now I hope he’ll call J.J. Abrams a dick some more. Playfully of course, we don’t need any malice on such a joyous occasion.
(Lead image via BBC)