The New Copyright Moriarty

“The Sherlock Holmes Museum - 221b Baker Street, London - Sherlock Holmes,” © 2011 Elliott Brown, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This story begins when an author undertook the publication of a collection of new tales, which was tentatively titled In the Company of Sherlock Holmes. The Estate of Sir Conan Doyle (“Estate”) purports to own the copyrights in and to Mr. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes body of works and demanded that the author obtain a paid license, leading the author to file a declaratory judgment action. The Estate, however, declined to litigate the issue by filing any responsive pleading. Not being satisfied with a possible default judgment, the author has filed a summary judgment motion, requesting that the court definitively hold that all of the novels and most every story in the Sherlock Holmes body of works are in the public domain in the United States by reason of the fact that they were first published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923. Could it be that the court, and not Moriarty, finally does Holmes in? The final chapter may just be written in the next few months when the court rules on the pending motion.

Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd., 1:13- cv-01226, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago)

 

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