Read more by clicking on the articles or podcasts below (links are in bold):
Leslie Klinger discusses the case on CNN
Tangent to the Circle C: “Please Complete Me”
Tangent to the Circle C: “A Holmes for the World”
Tangent to the Circle C: “Get Sherlock”
Tangent to the Circle C: “The Soul of Sherlock Holmes”
Baker Street Babes podcast
Thomson Reuters blog
New York Times
Publisher’s Weekly podcast
Rick Kleffel’s Agony Column — click here for the podcast and here for the MP3 file
Barefoot on Baker Street
Texas Lawyer (requires subscription)
The New York Times Arts Beat blog
Baker Street Blog
My brother, Les Klinger, is not only a wonderful writer, but a person of great integrity who seeks to work within the boundaries of the law yet willing to challenge those that are wrong for the majority. He is someone who is working for the right of others to get their work product out for the world to enjoy. He has had a passion for “things Sherlock” for many years and finds great joy in bringing others into the fold of the “Sherlockian Mantle”. His goal is not monetary gain, but artistic freedom. I wish him success in his endeavors to get this unfair restriction removed for all who benefit. – Ruth Cisowski
I applaud this courageous effort to strike a blow against the copyright litigation that has run amok in the U.S. We need to get back to the REAL intent of copyright. As an author, I have suffered from similar legal entanglements. I have been working on a totally new Sherlock Holmes series of stories for years, even as I know I may never be able to publish them. Go Laurie!
I entirely agree that the copyright laws have gone too far and the Sonny Bono amendment was completely over the top yet, the Supreme Court has upheld it. However, I cannot understand, as simply a matter of legal practice, why the attorneys for the Conan Doyle Estate allowed the Klinger claim to proceed as a question of copyright law when the right to literary characters was distinguished as a separate right, somewhat analogous to a trademark right, in a landmark case where an author,Dashiell Hammett, sold his rights in his novel, The Maltese Falcon, featuring the main character of Sam Spade, to Warner Brothers who then made it into a motion picture. Thereafter, Hammett undertook to write a further story featuring Sam Spade and, within the context of a larger lawsuit, Warner Brothers claimed that they owned the Sam Spade character by reason of having brought the copyright to the book in which he appeared.
The court held that the right to a literary character is not a copyright issue and that an author retains is rights to such characters notwithstanding a transfer of copyright to a publication in which the character appeared.
If an opposite holding had been the law, then it should be remembered that Arthur Conan Doyle, who sold outright is copyright to his very first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, would never have been permitted to write other Sherlock Holmes stories. In fact, he wrote 59 more over the following 40 years. Mickey Mouse has appeared in many copyrighted forms of publication. Do you think that when those copyrights expire, as many have, Walt Disney Productions will lose its exclusive right to the character? Of course not and neither should the Doyle Estate lose its rights to the Sherlock Holmes character simply because the copyrights have expired on the stories in which he appeared.
However, the Doyle Estate allowed the challenge to its rights to proceed as a copyright issue with dire consequences. Whether or not the Estate can yet assert rights separate and apart from copyright considerations remains to be seen. If I remember correctly, there is something in law known as “the entire controversy doctrine” which, in the interest of judicial expediency, requires litigants to air all of their related issues in one proceeding. If that is in fact the case, the Estate’s failure to do so could possibly constitute a waiver of any such other rights.