ruben castillo

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson aren’t protected by copyright, US court rules

Sherlock Holmes’ status as a copyrighted character is easily as complicated as any of the cases he’s had to solve. Created over 125 years ago, Holmes would remain a fixture in author Arthur Conan Doyle’s work until the late 1920s. In the UK, that means that all Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain, where they can be used and adapted by other authors. But under American law, ten stories remain copyrighted, and Conan Doyle’s estate has argued that this is enough to keep Holmes and Watson under their jurisdiction. Earlier this week, though, a lawsuit changed that, as Judge Ruben Castillo found that the two characters were no longer protected by copyright in the US.