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Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US 207

Posted by timothy
from the and-mycroft-is-even-older dept. writes "As reported on the Australian ABC news website, film-makers in the US are finally free to work on Sherlock Holmes stories without paying a licencing free to the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after a ruling by Judge Ruben Castillo. A quirk of U.S. copyright law kept 10 stories out of the public domain, on the basis that these stories were continuously developed. In his ruling Judge Castillo opined that only the "story elements" in the short stories published after 1923 were protected and that everything else in the Holmes canon was "free for public use" — including the characters of Holmes and Watson. Holmes scholar Leslie Klinger, who challenged the estate, celebrated the ruling. 'Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world,' Mr Klinger said in a statement posted on his Free Sherlock website. IANAL, but the ruling of Judge Castillo that "adopting Conan Doyle's position would be to extend impermissibly the copyright of certain character elements of Holmes and Watson beyond their statutory period," is surely going to have implications across U.S. copyright law. Mark Twain must be twisting and writhing in his grave."
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Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:24PM (#45802807)

    But of course US Law is World Law because the US rules the world by bombing the shit out of anyone who disagrees.

  • Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:35PM (#45802853)
    Disney will now be able to bring the stories of the the brothers Grimm [] to the big screen, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. No longer will our culture be stolen from us by dead people and uncreative "owners of intellectual property."
  • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] []> on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:58PM (#45802955) Journal
    Still, 90 years is an awfully long time... these copyrights should have reasonably expired several decades ago.
  • On Twain... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @12:25AM (#45803049)

    Reports of Mark Twain twisting and writhing in his grave have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the late Mr. Twain has been quite immobile since the most recent reports of his death.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2013 @12:54AM (#45803161)

    Hey now, Buckaroo Banzai is all kinds of cool.

  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @12:56AM (#45803169) Journal

    Have you *heard* bagpipes played? Badly?

    Is there any other way?

  • by narcc (412956) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @01:27AM (#45803263) Journal

    Er, the "the blood sucking scum called Hollywood" has already pissed all over Sherlock Holmes. I don't see how this changes anything.

  • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:17AM (#45803601) Journal
    I've heard that the definition of a Scottish gentleman is one who knows how to play the bagpipes, but refrains from doing so.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @06:24AM (#45804147)

    And? I never understood why this so called "IP" deserves to be treated differently than regular property. Does Ford get a cut of every used Ford ever sold? Does Joe the carpenter get a cut every time a house he built changes hands for decades?

    Let me explain. If you write for example a book, there are in theory two ways to get paid for your work: A. Find someone who is willing to buy the book, copyright and everything, and pay you a fair value for the work. You are not going to see a penny after that. Or you get a little bit of money from everyone who buys it, forever. It's a different business model. Not one sale for big money, but many sales each giving you a tiny amount.

    But look at it in a different way: Either you want a book, or a video, or a music performance, or you don't. If you don't want it, you shouldn't care whether it's for sale or free. And if you want it, then surely you should agree that it is _worth_ paying for. You can't seriously argue that you want it but it's not worth money.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <> on Saturday December 28, 2013 @11:28AM (#45805385) Journal

    Several problems with your argument.

    Although copyright can be used against plagiarists, counterfeiters, and other sorts of fraudsters, that's not it's purpose. We have other laws to deal with those problems, we don't need copyright for that. Shouldn't keep copyright alive for such purposes either. If someone tries to pass that homemade F150 off as the real thing, if it's such a good copy that it fools prospective buyers, and someone buys it under the impression that they are buying a real Ford F150, then the seller has committed fraud. That's counterfeiting. Also trademark infringement. Very common for the copyright extremists to conflate these separate issues in their attempts to justify their positions.

    You can make a homemade F150 truck, and you don't need Ford's permission. It can be a cardboard cutout, or a toy sized miniature that you can hold in your hand, or a full sized replica with a working engine and all. People have made replicas of cars that while antique, are not old enough for copyright to have expired on them. No one is going to sue you for making a replica of a Studebaker automobile! Just don't pass it off as the real thing.

    There's also the Ship of Theseus problem. If you use some parts from a real antique car, and fabricate the ones you can't find, does the whole qualify as genuine? Can a T-bucket be a genuine Ford Model T?

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @12:40PM (#45805807)

    I disagree. Each country should enact whatever copyright laws are best for its own people.

    So get rid of copyright law, then?

  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:45PM (#45807091) Homepage

    They also own their version of Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water [] and Kimba, the White Lion [].

    Just a reminder that Disney doesn't just shamelessly steal from American folklore and then try to lock it up forever; they are quite happy to steal from other cultures too.

    Keep this in mind in a few years when Disney tries to find a way to loophole their way into retaining ownership of the original Steamboat Willie -- which, if I'm understanding this ruling, Disney can no longer keep perpetually copyrighted through bribing congress.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai