Who Owns Sherlock Holmes? Even He Might Not Be Able To Figure It Out

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I’ve mentioned before, and those who know me well will also be aware, that I used to run a blog called Professor Damians’s Public Domain Treasure Chest. There were a lot of reasons that I let it sort of fall by the wayside, but one of the biggest factors was that as time went on, and I began to try to move beyond some of the movies that were obviously PD, it became harder and harder to try to untangle just what I could and could not responsibly feature on the site. That’s why the article “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Public Domain“, written by Mark Litwak for the Independent Filmmaker Project or IFP caught my eye.

In the article, Litwak does an excellent job not so much untangling the copyright issues surrounding both Holmes the character and the Holmes canon, as explaining why it’s such an entangled mess in the first place.

I’m not going to go into extensive quoting from the article here, but instead I’m simply going to suggest that if you have any interest in Holmes, Copyright, or the Public Domain, you go read it. You may come away from it more confused than ever, but that’s, unfortunately, the state of copyright not only in the U.S, but around the world right now. It’s also part of the reason that real copyright reform is needed.

Unfortunately, that’s a problem that… eh, I don’t even really have to say it, do I?

Until next time, Happy Viewing!


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