Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public Domain

Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public DomainS

Hear that sound? It's the squeal of a million fan fiction writers freaking out at the prospect of finally getting some respect. This week, a federal judge ruled that the world's most famous (and possibly most adapted) detective may enter the public domain.

Sherlock Holmes made his debut 126 years ago in A Study in Scarlet, first published in 1887. Since then he's appeared in pretty much every medium and has been portrayed by everyone from original deerstalker Basil Rathbone to Iron Man to Khan. But through all that, people using Holmes and any number of other series tropes have had to pay licensing fees to the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. Basically, this is big.

The lawsuit was brought by Leslie S. King, who edited a 3,000-page annotated version of the Holmes stories and several other works on the character, including a collection of Holmes stories written by several different authors. Although Holmes should have already entered the public domain, lawyers for the estate claimed that Holmes should remain private for four more years, as his story was not truly complete until the last tale was published in 1927.

It didn't fly. All Sherlock Holmes stories and elements from works published before 1923—including Holmes, Dr. John Watson, the dastardly Professor Moriarty, and even 221B Baker Street—now belong to everyone. Use them wisely.

[image via AP]

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