All Your Holmes Belong To Us

Well, most of them, anyway. This popped up a few days ago and I never got a chance to say anything about it, so I’m saying something now. A judge recently declared that a big chunk of Conan Doyle’s work is, in fact, part of public domain. Though, not all of it. There were ten stories published after 1922 and those are still verboten to anyone out there who wants to write about Sherlock, who wants to pump out some fiction of their own. Now, I think this is the stuff that you can’t use. If there is something mentioned in them, and only in them, you can’t use it for your own stuff. Though it’s probably easier to just consult this list of things that you can use.

So, why do I make a post about this? Have I written some kick ass Holmesian story that I can now flog to every mystery mag I can find? No, not really. It’s more that I just hate copyright law in the US. I hate that Mickey Mouse still can’t be touched by anyone. It’s bullshit. This stuff is put out there, and part of a healthy artistic society is re-appropriating stuff that is old and putting a new spin on it. Making it breath again. When was the last time Disney did anything with Mickey Mouse that was worth the five minutes it took to look at it and realize it wasn’t worth your time?  Maybe Epic Mickey, but I don’t think so. It was sort of fun, but also sloppy and with some serious control/camera issues. So, not even Epic Mickey. Has Mickey even done anything in the past twenty years? Has he had a movie? I can’t think of anything big and Mickey. So why does Disney cling so desperately to it just to put college kids into those god awful foam suits every summer and threaten to kill’em should they rip off their mouse heads within view of the public?

At least Holmes has the movies lately. The television shows. And they do something different with it. I’m not a fan of the two modernized television shows, but it’s something different.

Anyway. So, this is sort of big news. what I find most interesting about this whole sordid affair is that while his estate has zealously protected copyright, Doyle didn’t seem to be nearly as fervent about it in his life time. A ton of Holmes stuff was done in his lifetime, from movies to stage plays. Maybe letting it drift into the public domain, and allowing the public to finally take it and run with it is just the right thing to do. as for if I’m looking forward to more Holmes stuff…I’ll have to see what the Holmes stuff is. But at least folks have a chance now.

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