I find law fascinating. In fact before I decided to pursue my love of editing as a career, I had already taken my Lsats and was making out my list of law schools to apply to. But I love literature even more than law. So imagine my excitement that these two areas are combining for what is shaping up to be the biggest literary lawsuit of the decade. Even more so since one of my favorite characters is the star.
Now in case you have been living under a publishing rock here is what's going on. Writer/lawyer Leslie Klinger was poised to publish a book of stories about Sherlock Holmes and characters inspired by him from various writers. His publisher then got a message from the Doyle Estate threatening to tell the distributers not to print the books if they did not pay the estate fees.
Klinger, having paid fees for his various Sherlock books in the past, felt this was the last straw and decided to sue.
"It is true that some of Conan Doyle's stories about Holmes are still protected by the U.S. copyright laws. However, the vast majority of the stories that Conan Doyle wrote are not. The characters of Holmes, Watson, and others are fully established in those fifty 'public domain' stories. Under U.S. law, this should mean that anyone is free to create new stories about Holmes and Watson.
"This sin't the first time the Estate has put pressure on creators. It is the first time anyone has stood up to them. In the past, many simply couldn't afford to fight or to wait for approval, and have given in and paid off the Estate for 'permission.' I'm asking the court to put a permanent stop to this kind of bullying. Holmes and Watson belong to the world, not to some distant relatives of Arthur Conan Doyle."
I say Bravo, Klinger! I may not know a lot about law, but his argument sounds sound to me. Now I may be a bit bias in this a opinion because I have plans for a teenaged Sherlock story and cannot afford to pay the Estate anything. I am glad someone is standing up to them. They tried to take money from the wrong person this time, and hopefully for the last time.