Are Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson still under a legal cloak (or cape, if you will) of copyright law? The Supreme Court may have to solve that mystery.
Doyle’s estate has been attempting to block a California lawyer and Holmes fancier, Leslie S. Klinger, from publishing a new book about the two characters unless he is willing to get a license from the estate and pay a fee. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the estate’s copyright claim, calling it “quixotic.” The new filing at the Court, including the Seventh Circuit’s ruling as an appendix, has been docketed as 14A47, and can be read here.
The Doyle estate, though, is pressing a quite unusual copyright theory.
It contends that, since Doyle continued to develop the characters of Holmes and Watson throughout all of the stories, the characters themselves cannot be copied even for what Doyle wrote about them in the works that are now part of the public domain and thus ordinarily would be fair game for use by others.
Read the full blog post on SCOTUS:Blog – Sherlock Holmes and the mystery of copyright