Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Official" SH Writer

As part of their on-going delusion that they still control the Holmes-verse, the controllers of the estate of Conan Doyle* have chosen an official endorsed pastiche writer:  Anthony Horowitz (of the Alex Rider series).



* Conan Doyle's estate was left to his heirs and ended up in the control of his daughter-in-law via a bank loan.  It went into receivership and was purchased by a non-relative, Lady Etelka Duncan and is now managed by her daughter. The works have been largely out of copyright since 2000 but the estate maintains that latter works are still under copyright and all of the characters are trademarked.

7 comments:

mlleviolet said...

Conan Doyle has no surviving descendants, which is why the estate fell into such dissarray since Adrian Conan Doyle died. But even if he did have descednants, the works are in the public domain, except the Case-book, and that too will soon be in the public domain. The sad fact is that no one currently involved with the literary estate actually cares about the character of Sherlock Holmes but rather only about the income he may bring.

Cress said...

Why do they get to call themselves the Conan Doyle Estate, instead of just "copyright owners"? Anyway, in the past, the estate would "authorize" anthologies and short stories about Holmes before, sometimes of questionable qualities, so I don't know why the press is making a big deal about this, as if no other writer has carried on with pastiches (with or without estate consent) before.

mlleviolet said...

According to the estate lawyers, (who published a letter in yesterday's New York Times, dated Feburary 2) all pastiches not official authorized are in trademark violation. They understand that most of the stories are in the public domain - reprints of the stories do not have to pay the ACD estate - but the characters themselves are trademarked and pastiches must be authorized, or else they are in violation, or so they claim. I don't mean Andrea Plunket; her claim is totally bogus - these lawyers represent the ACD literary estate).

I don't understand how Laurie King, who has made millions with her unauthorized Sherlock Holmes pastiches, can continue to publish if her work is really in violation - her books are high-profile and can't possibly slip under the radar. The literary estate lawyers must be mistaken, or else it's wishful thinking.

I have been confused about the SH copyrights for years and I wish I could get a conclusive answer, as I don't want to break the law but publishing my own pastiche.

Emily Veinglory: said...

Well, one of the requirements of maintaining a trademark is that you actively defend it. Given the vaste number of high profile pastiches out their they have done nothing about... I am thinking that argument would not stand up in court.

mlleviolet said...

Considering that link to a porn movie that you posted, I hope a little self-published pastiche won't catch their attention. Still, I would like to feel that I'm abiding by the law - the idea of violating a literary trademark doesn't sit right with me. The problem is that the SH copyright and trademark are a giant mess and no one seems to conclusively know what the law is. I don't trust the literary estate; they have a vested interest in controlling the "brand" and I don't believe they are truly representing the facts.

I truly love the character of Sherlock Holmes and I know ACD would be rolling in his grave if read any of my erotic pastiche. I guess my only consolation is all the ACD descendants are dead and so I'm not hurting the family in any way; and as far as the lawyers, well, it's clear their interest is more monetary than literary.

Emily Veinglory: said...

What I have heard is that porn might be one of the safer forms of derivative work because it is pretty much assumed to be 'parody' and therefore 'fair use'....

mlleviolet said...

Thanks for that! I think you are right, recalling what I've read on the fandom_laywers LiveJournal community.