Today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan dismissed an emergency petition to her a case from the Arthur Conan Doyle estate, which was an attempt to claim a copyright on the Sherlock Holmes character on the basis that there are works within the canon that show the evolution of the character that are not yet within the bounds of being public domain. This entire case came to be thanks to an upcoming book, which did not attempt to compensate the estate.
We’ve been interested in this case mostly because of whatever sort of potential impact it could have on all of the Holmes-based fiction that is out there, which includes the BBC series “Sherlock” in addition to “Elementary” over on CBS. These two shows have made licensing to the estate just to avoid the bad publicity and the legal headache, but it will be an interesting situation to monitor in the future.
This will in the end still be something interesting to monitor, especially given the announcement that “Sherlock” season 4 will go into production at some point in the new year. We see both sides of the dispute, and we also understand how it could be difficult as a descendant of the original author to see so many different adaptations of the character, especially some that could twist it far beyond what it was originally.
We’ll have some more news on this subject, at least in the event that there is something that comes out of it in the future that legitimately matters.
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Photo: BBC One