Sunday, May 24, 2015

Conan Doyle Estate Sues Miramax Over Mr. Holmes

The Hollywood Reporter reports that the Conan Doyle estate is suing Miramax over the film Mr Holmes because it allegedly infringes works about the detective still in copyright.

The heirs of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle have apparently accepted an appellate judge's conclusion that most of the Sherlock stories are in the public domain. However, that's not stopping the Doyle Estate from filing a new lawsuit targeting Miramax and others over the coming film, Mr. Holmes, which features the famous detective near the end of his life.

On Thursday, a copyright and trademark lawsuit was lodged in New Mexico federal court that alleges that Mr. Holmes treads upon the last ten of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, published between 1923 and 1927.

In a prior dispute with a Holmes expert (Les Klinger!), the Doyle Estate attempted to argue that it would be unfair to separate out the copyrighted elements from the post-1923 stories from the character traits of the detective that were described prior to 1923. Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner rejected that argument, and also ordered the Doyle estate to pay its legal adversary more than $30,000 in legal fees, but still left open an avenue where the Doyle Estate could attempt to protect the latter works.

The lawsuit attempts to take this opportunity.

According to the complaint, Doyle's public domain works "make references to Holmes’s retirement," but the ones still in copyright tell "much more about Sherlock Holmes’ retirement and later years," such as the detective's attempt to solve one last case, how he "comes to love nature and dedicates himself to studying it," and how Holmes develops "a personal warmth and the capacity to express love for the first time."

Read more here.

HT: Doc Quatermas

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