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Doyle estate wins again — against 'Mr Holmes' — despite SCOTUS ruling in SoCal case




Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes
Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes

Back in November, Off-Ramp interviewed local author Leslie Klinger about his victory in the US Supreme Court against the estate of Conan Doyle.

Klinger co-edited "In the Company of Sherlock Holmes," a new series of short stories about the detective, and was then sued by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. The estate claimed the new stories used copyrighted details of the Doyle stories.

In the Klinger case, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said, "it appears that the Doyle estate is concerned not with specific alterations in the depiction of Holmes or Watson ... but with any such story that is published without payment to the estate of a licensing fee." As Klinger put it, that lower court ruling said the estate was "basically extortionist."

At the time, Klinger expressed hope that creative artists would be able to stand up to the estate's future efforts "to threaten creators."

"On the film industry side," he said, "It's been the practice for motion picture producers to just pay the estate, because it's fast and relatively inexpensive, compared to going to court."

The next test was when the estate sued Mitch Cullin, who wrote the book "Mr Holmes," starring Ian McKellen, is based on, claiming he used elements of the original Doyle stories that were protected by copyright, including the fact that Holmes retired to the countryside in his old age.

In online remarks ... the writer called it “an extortion attempt pure and simple, brought on by the desire to make money once the film version of the book came to their attention.”

— Santa Fe New Mexican, 7/17/2015

But, as the  newspaper reported, the Doyle estate has again reached an undisclosed settlement, and you're able to see "Mr Holmes" in your local theater.

The website I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere is tracking the Doyle estate's various efforts, under the #FreeSherlock hashtag.