Enola Holmes Lawsuit Settled
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.