At the heart of the dis­pute is whether a char­ac­ter can be copy­right pro­tected over an en­tire se­ries of works

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

orig­i­nal short sto­ries fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters and other el­e­ments from Doyle’s work. If ap­peals judges hold it up, the rul­ing could lift the threat of le­gal ac­tion for the un­told scores of writ­ers out there churn­ing out pas­tiches and fan fic­tion with­out per­mis­sion. Most of them fly un­der the radar. In Klinger’s case, the es­tate de­manded $5,000, he said. “What­ever de­ci­sion they make will essen­tially de­ter­mine the fate of many char­ac­ters, not just Sher­lock Holmes and Dr. Wat­son, but very in­tri­cate char­ac­ters such as James Bond. ... What hap­pens as copy­rights ex­pire on Ian Flem­ing’s orig­i­nal sto­ries?” said Doyle es­tate at­tor­ney Wil­liam Zieske. At the heart of the dis­pute is whether a char­ac­ter can be copy­right pro­tected over an en­tire se­ries of works. The Doyle es­tate ar­gues that a ba­sic el­e­ment of copy­right law al­lows for that if the char­ac­ter is highly de­lin­eated, as op­posed to a two-di­men­sional char­ac­ter who doesn’t change over time. In rul­ing against the es­tate, Judge Ruben Castillo called that a “novel le­gal ar­gu­ment” that was “counter to the goals of the Copy­right Act.” The law­suit was filed in Chicago be­cause a literary agent for the Doyle es­tate is based in Illi­nois. Doyle pro­duced a to­tal of four Sher­lock Holmes nov­els and 56 sto­ries be­tween 1887 and 1927.

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