Exciting news in copyright world! Anyone who has ever wanted to use Sherlock Holms for their own pleasure can legally do so and share it with the world. Thanks be to Leslie Klinger who stood up to the Doyle estate when they demanded a license fee. Klinger said ‘nu-uh honey’ and took those greedy jerks to court.
Back in February 2013 Klinger was co-editing In The Company of Sherlock Holmes (Pegasus Books) with Laurie R. King when the Conan Doyle Estate contacted their publisher and according to Publishers Weekly(PW), “ implied that if the Estate wasn’t paid a license fee, they’d convince the major distributors not to sell the book.” Of course the publisher was a little concerned and decided the book could not go forward until the matter was resolved.
So, fast-forward to December 2013 and Illinois federal judge Ruben Castillo’s ruling on the case. Castillo found that Sherlock Holmes, other characters, and elements of the series published before 1923 are in the public domain. “Castillo held that for all but a few remaining stories, the “public may use the pre-1923 story elements without seeking a license.”’
Sir Author Conan Doyle died on July 7, 1930, which would make this summer 84 years since his death. As you may or may not know the standard “Copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death.” (Trout 63) So the whole ordeal was unnecessary. The estate was presumably basing their request on the dates of Doyle’s later works, ten of which Judge Castillo found to still be protected by copyright law. However about 50 other stories are now up for grabs! -So to speak.
In other news more recent news in the Apple price fixing case Judge Denise Cote made two rulings that hurt Apple. The judge rejected Apple’s two expert witnesses and granted class action status. This is unfortunate for Apple in that they may not be able to avoid a large damage award.
Who else is getting their arses handed to them? Barnes & Noble. Publishers Weekly reported in January that several law firms have filed class action lawsuits against Barnes & Noble claiming that the company misled investors from February 2013 to December 2013. According to PW The law firm Ryan & Maniskas listed eight causes: “ (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.”
Trout, Brett J. Cyber Law: A Legal Arsenal for Online Business. MBS Direct, 2007. VitalBook file.