Enola Holmes Lawsuit Settled

Enola Holmes

I was not surprised to hear that the Arthur Conan Doyle estate sued Netflix (as well as production company Legendary Pictures, Penguin Random House, and the author of the original books Nancy Springer) over the Enola Holmes movie back in June (in New Mexico, of all places). They have a reputation of trying to get funds when big-pocket participants are involved in Sherlock Holmes projects. (They promote, on their website, licensing the character for, in addition to Sherlock, the US TV show Elementary; Holmes and Watson, the atrocious Will Ferrell “comedy”; and the Robert Downey movies. Those are not strong recommendations.)

This was complicated by the character and most of the stories now being in the public domain. So the estate came up with a ridiculous theory about the last few stories, the ones they still legally control in the US, being the only ones where, they claimed,

Holmes became warmer. He became capable of friendship. He could express emotion. He began to respect women.

Apparently, according to the heirs of a writer who didn’t actually like the character who made his fortune, Holmes and Watson weren’t friends in the 44 stories and four novels that are able to be used by anyone. And Holmes was never emotional at all before those last dozen tales still under protection.

ANYway, ludicrous claim aside, the news came out this weekend that Netflix and the estate have settled the case, with no details available. This could mean that Netflix threw a few dollars at them. It could mean that Netflix gave them nothing but the ability to prevent losing the case in public. It could mean that Netflix’s October countersuit, charging “extortion”, frightened the estate, or not. We don’t know. Which means, as this analysis puts it, we don’t know “whether “respecting women” is a character trait protected by copyright law.”

Those last few stories will be public domain in 2023, so only a few more years of this nonsense.



6 comments

  • Califury

    “Those last few stories will be public domain in 2023, so only a few more years of this nonsense.”

    Authors’ right are never nonsense. They’re ripped off so often, any lawsuit that backs production houses back from direct robbery makes sense, regardless of whether it is weak. The Doyle name and heirs to that legacy are strong enough that they can, perhaps, back Netflix up a 1/10th of a step.

  • Authors’ rights are great. Expecting grandkids to live well off of something created 140 years ago is not. I support intellectual property rights, and I support more limited spans of copyright than we have now.

    In short: Mickey Mouse and Superman should have been public domain by now, also.

  • Steven Rowe

    Why was the lawsuit in New Mexico? The licensing representative of the estate (and part owner) lives in Santa Fe, NM. Thus many of the buisness dealings are there. The last movie lawsuit was also dealt with in the NM courts.

  • Oh, thank you for that information!

  • James Schee

    What a weird case, it seemed to boil down to “they made the character likeable and that’s wrong” which is an odd thing.

    I came into the movie cold, didn’t know much about it, but for most part I enjoyed it. The lead played Millie Bobby Brown was really fun, I was surprised at the growth I’d seen in her as an actor. Though to be fair my only real prior exposure to her was first season of Stranger Things where she didn’t have a role that allowed a lot of mobility.

    Cavill was rather dry at times I thought, but he was charming which made the character work. I hope they’ll do more movies, but if not at least this felt like a complete story here.

  • I thought it was fun, and I was glad to see a girls’ adventure film, but it had next to nothing to due with Sherlock Holmes. (And the way they treated Mycroft really annoyed me.) The characters’ names could have been changed and it would be the same film.

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