The character of Sherlock Holmes and other elements from the popular novels written by Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle in the early 1900s are now part of US public domain, reports the New York Times.
Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of Illinois ruled that the classic detective series is no longer covered by US copyright law, after a dispute between editor Leslie S. Klinger and the Conan Doyle estate over the rights to publish and sell a new book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes.
It’s not the entire Sherlock Holmes canon that has been ruled free of copyright but rather elements of the 50 books that were published before January 1, 1923. Works published before or during 1922 are part of US public domain, according to US copyright laws. Part of the dispute between Klinger and the Conan Doyle estate was whether detective Holmes’ character was fully ironed out before 1923.
Holmes has been in the public domain in his native United Kingdom since 2000.
In the US, he joins a long list of fictional favorites that are already part of the public domain, including Jack and the Beanstalk, Frankenstein’s monster, Count Dracula, Don Juan, Robin Hood, Mother Goose, Peter Pan, and Don Quixote.