|License fees no |
"[t]he facts are that Sir Arthur continued creating the characters in the [stories that remain subject to copyright], adding significant aspects of each character's background, creating new history about the dynamics of their own relationship, changing Holmes's outlook on the world, and giving him new skills. [...] In other words, at any given point in their fictional lives, the characters depend on copyrighted character development."The Conan Doyle Estate also dispatches with what would seem to be contradictory case law, Silverman v. CBS, Inc., by explaining that the characters of Amos 'n' Andy at issue in Silverman were flat characters who were completely and fully developed after the first few episodes of of the Amos 'n' Andy radio show. By contrast, claims the Estate, Holmes and Watson are "round characters" who continue to change in each new story. Sherlock Holmes is a character "having all of the complex background and maturing emotions, thoughts, relationships and actions that characterize human development over time."
|Cat Sherlock awaits her fate:|
Will she continue to earn royalties
or will her kitty run dry?
Sir Arthur is not alone in developing his characters, like Holmes, over the course of a series. However, if the character is sufficiently developed in early works, as is typical in order to engage and interest readers, the author should not be permitted to leverage later character developments to extend the term of copyright through the copyright period of the later works. If this were the case, a publisher could potentially extend the copyright in a character indefinitely, as publishers may leverage multiple authors to write series of works over decades. A ruling in favour of the Conan Doyle Estate would have not just a broad impact on the status of copyrights held by authors who create series of works over many years, but also a significant impact on the purpose of public domain in encouraging new creative works that draw inspiration from, or are derivative of, prior creations whose copyright terms have expired. In this Kat's opinion, this is incongruous with the intent of the copyright law, which intentionally established a limited period of time during which a work could be leveraged exclusively by the creator.
The IP Kat notes that in many jurisdictions all of the works of Sir Arthur have fallen into the public domain. Thus, the status of its US copyrights likely holds singular importance for the Conan Doyle Estate as a means to protect the revenues generated by its copyright licensing activities.
Regardless of the outcome in respect of its copyrights, the Conan Doyle Estate does also assert trade mark rights in the word mark Sherlock Holmes and the silhouette image of a pipe-smoking Sherlock. In this regard, even if Mr Klinger is successful in establishing that major elements from the canon of Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, it still retains its reputation as a foremost expert on all things Sherlock Holmes. Being an authorized licensee of a respected and prominent stakeholder, such as the Conan Doyle Estate, often comes with favourable benefits, including marketing and advertising support from the Estate and permission to use the Estate’s official licensee seal (the Sherlock silhouette) on book covers or product packaging. For some, the Estate's official support may be worth the cost of the trade mark license fee.
Top 10 Sherlock Holmes Quotes here