Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sherlock Holmes is Public Domain

HolmesAs I have previously discussed, author Lesli Klinger was granted a default judgment on his request for a declaratory judgment that much of the Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is public domain due to the copyright expiring. After the judgment, the Doyle estate appealed  claiming that the character of Holmes is complex and developing over time, and argued that the copyright is still valid and Klinger needs a license to use the character in his book.  Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit disagreed with the Doyle estate, comparing the developing character of Holmes to that of reoccurring characters in Shakespeare’s work and refusing to apply a rule that would allow copyright of a reoccurring character in works to live on forever.

See Eriq Gardner, Conan Doyle Estate Loses Appeal Over ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Rights, Hollywood Reporter, June 16, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


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