Legendary sleuth pressed into public domain

Let’s call it the Case of the Sudden Public Figure, an unraveling mystery that enmeshes a cultural icon and wraps him anew in laws that many fail to know nor appreciate. In case you missed exactly how this conundrum got cracked — and the coverage may have hit a pop culture kind of smother level, especially considering all the factors involved — the clues for practitioners of Entertainment Law may be said to rest in matters elementary: chronology, character, character trait and storyline. So how does the year 1923 and the presence of a second wife, an athletic history and a retirement decide whether Sherlock Holmes, the legendary, deer-stalker wearing British deductive detective, belongs with his crew, including Dr. Watson, as literary creations in the public domain, free for public use. Or not? Brave on here, dear reader, if you haven’t already partaken of this yarn (and we’ve got lots of interesting links, even if so ….)In case you missed this report or this one or this one or this one, of course,  Ruben Castillo, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, recently decided that pre-1923 story elements from Sir Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes have entered the public domain and now are free for the public to use. In applying the “incremental expression” test, however, Castillo also ruled that post-1923 story...

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