The Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle are in the Public Domain…sort of.
From a December 27th NYT article by Jennifer Schuessler:
… the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, stated that elements introduced in Holmes stories published after 1923 — such as the fact that Watson played rugby for Blackheath, or had a second wife — remain under copyright in the United States. (All of the Holmes stories are already in the public domain in Britain.)
This decision says that Sherlock Holmes published material before January 1, 1923 was now in the public domain in the United States. The stories written 1923 and after which develop the characters of Holmes and Watson are still under copyright.
The Arthur Conan Doyle estate is contemplating an appeal.
Mystery writer Laurie King who writes the popular Mary Russell series based on a character who has a relationship with Sherlock Holmes is the co-editor of a new anthology of Holmes inspired stories which led to this law suit.
In other public domain news the British Library has released over 1,000,000 images that are in the public domain like the one above from page 91 of “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.”
From the British Library flickr profile:
The British Library’s collections on Flickr Commons offer access to millions of public domain images, which we encourage you to explore and re-use. The release of these collections into the public domain represent the Library’s desire to improve knowledge of and about them, to enable novel and unexpected ways of using them, and to begin working with researchers to explore and interpret large scale digital collections.
A thank you goes out to Jeannine Keefer for originally letting us know about the British Library flickr images.
The image above is from the British Library flickr site and scanned from an 1882 book, “The Advantages of Richmond, Virginia, as a manufacturing and trading centre, with notes for the guidance of tourists on the lines of transportation running from Richmond”