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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Writing Quote: Sherlock Holmes No Longer Protected by Copyright

     In 2013, a federal judge ruled that Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. John H. Watson no longer were protected by copyright, and that all elements of the famous sleuth's stories by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before 1923 were now in the public domain.

    Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four novels and 56 short stories about the fictional detective that first appeared in 1887. The final 10 Holmes stories were published in the U.S. in 1923.

     Before Castillo's ruling, only the final ten stories retained their copyright in the United States. The rest of the Holmes "cannon" was in the public domain, though Conan Doyle's estate claimed that those 10 copyrighted stories were enough to prevent anyone from using the Homes character in new works. Many book publishers and movie studios thus entered into licensing agreements with the estate.

     Castillo's ruling allows anyone to use the Holmes character as long as they don't use elements from the 1923 stories, which include details about Holmes' and Dr. Watson's past.

Hector Tobar, The Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2013 

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