"Ha! Nothing could be better." [STOC]

Plaintiff Les Klinger, with Otto Penzler

If you've been following the Free Sherlock movement, this is welcome news. You may recall that in February ("Don't Imagine That You Can Bully Me" [CHAS]) we reported on the lawsuit opened by Leslie S. Klinger, BSI ("The Abbey Grange") against the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd.

The basis of the case was that Klinger believed that the characters of Sherlock Holmes should be free to use, so long as authors and artisans were not infringing on the copyrights of the 10 stories remaining under protection in the United States. The Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. disagreed, levying licensing charges on those who wished to use the characters at all.

"Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world." #FreeSherlock - Leslie Klinger [Tweet this]

On December 23, the the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled on the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment against the Conan Doyle Estate. As the Free Sherlock site stated this morning,
The ruling is a victory for the plaintiff Leslie S. Klinger, who sought to establish that the Estate was wrong in claiming that no new stories could be written about Holmes or Watson without the Estate’s permission.
The judge ruled that the story line and characters are not under copyright, rejecting the defendant's claim that they were. However, the 10 stories are still under copyright, as are any character elements introduced within those 10 stories. More detail from a lay person's perspective can be found on the New York Times Arts Beats & Eats blog. For you legal junkies, we've embedded the 22-page ruling below.

We'll have more on this case in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned.

UPDATE: If you'd like to hear what plaintiff Leslie Klinger and intellectual property legal scholar Betsy Rosenblatt had to say on the matter, we interviewed both of them for a special episode of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.


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