'Sherlock Holmes' declared part of public domain

Judge rules any "Sherlock Holmes" elements written prior to Jan. 1, 1923, are in the public domain in the United States.
Posted By DANIELLE HAYNES, UPI.com  |  Dec. 28, 2013 at 12:48 PM
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Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge ruled the character of Sherlock Holmes and other elements of the popular series by Arthur Conan Doyle published before Jan. 1, 1923, are part of the public domain.

Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, said any elements of the series published prior to the 1923 date are no longer covered by U.S. copyright law, and are therefore free for public use without paying a licensing fee to the writer's estate.

Any elements introduced after Jan. 1, 1923, like the fact that Dr. Watson played rugby and had a second wife, are still protected under U.S. copyright law. All Holmes stories are currently under public domain in Britain, the New York Times reported.

The ruling came about after a civil complaint filed in February by Leslie S. Klinger, the editor of the "New Annotated Sherlock Holmes." Klinger and Laurie R. King paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes collection, but said the Conan Doyle estate required a second fee if they wanted to sell their collection through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other "similar retailers."

[New York Times]

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