Sherlock Holmes in Public Domain, Says Judge

Or at least, all his stories from before 1923

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 27, 2013 1:47 PM CST

(Newser) – Are you dying to share your Sherlock Holmes fanfic with the world? Well, that's just become (sorry, we have to do this by law), elementary, my dear reader. A federal judge has ruled that Holmes, Watson, and all 50 stories they appeared in before Jan. 1, 1923, are now in the public domain in the US, the New York Times reports. The stories can be reprinted, and the characters used, without paying Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate.

The estate argued, and continues to argue, that Holmes and Watson shouldn't be in the public domain because Doyle wrote 10 stories after 1923 that develop their characters "in ways that almost any use of the characters depends on." But the plaintiffs, Leslie Klinger and Laurie King, say they've edited a book of new Holmes stories, called In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, that avoids any post-1923 elements. "Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world," Klinger said, a sentiment shared by many creators who rallied to her cause under the #FreeSherlock hashtag.

An image of Holmes and Watson from 'The Adventure of Silver Blaze,' which was published in The Strand Magazine in December 1892.
An image of Holmes and Watson from 'The Adventure of Silver Blaze,' which was published in The Strand Magazine in December 1892.   (Wikimedia)
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