Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sherlock Holmes is public property … but steer clear of Watson's second wife; Guardian, 12/27/13

Tom McCarthy, Guardian; Sherlock Holmes is public property … but steer clear of Watson's second wife: "Prospective authors of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction take heed: under a new court ruling, you may write that Sherlock Holmes was a cocaine-addicted martial arts aficionado cohabiting occasionally at 221B Baker Street, with a friend called Dr Watson. You may not, however, freely describe Dr Watson's own athletic background, the juicy fact of his second marriage or the circumstances of Holmes's retirement. A US district court in Illinois found itself wading into the details of the fictional detective's imaginary life this week in a copyright ruling on a forthcoming collection of original short stories featuring Holmes characters. An editor of the new book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, asked the court in effect to enlarge the elements of the Holmes story that are in the public domain. The court reinforced the public domain status of much of the work but denied part of the motion by the plaintiff, Leslie Klinger... Ten Holmes short stories, however, were published after 1923, the public domain threshold pinpointed by Melville Nimmer in his authoritative Nimmer on Copyright... The ruling applies only to the US. The entire Sherlock Holmes canon has been in the public domain in Britain since the end of 2000."

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