Breaking news over the Google feed is suddenly looking like the fight to free Sherlock Holmes may have one more round in it . . . a Hail Mary, to be sure, but still one more hope for the Doyle Estate before the matter is dead and buried.
Law 360 has a juicy little tidbit that the Doyle Estate has asked for a stay on the latest court decision while they petition the Supreme Court to consider their case. Will they get it? Will the Supreme Court consider their petition? That in itself a longshot. The highest court in the land gets petitions by the thousands each year, but considers well under ten percent.
One always hates to see court cases drag on and on, but the idea of getting Sherlock Holmes as a topic for the Supreme Court . . . some dark corner of the Sherlockian mind might actually find that a little exciting. And it raises a lot of questions, like . . . .
Are there liberal and conservative sides to the Free Sherlock case?
Is this just a way for the Estate to keep collecting those licensing fees for just a little bit longer?
Are any of the justices old enough to have known Conan Doyle personally?
Sherlockians have been having at it with the Doyle Estate as far back as 1946, so Les Klinger's modern battle is part of a long tradition. In a 1960 issue of The Baker Street Journal, Edgar Smith wrote an opening editorial called "Defiance to the Gods," in which he suggests the journal might well carry the inscription "Published without the permission of the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" on every issue.
"For why, it may be asked, is permission needed? Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a public figure, and no public figure could conceivably tolerate the indignity of subjecting himself to copyright," Smith wrote, among other great bits. Yay, verily, there were giants in those days!
A Supreme Court case might just put an end to the battle once and for all, but as we've seen in this instance, the Doyle Estate, like Stephen King's Carrie White, is surely bound to thrust a bloody hand out of the grave any time we start thinking the matter is dead and buried. Like any other bureaucratic bit in the modern day, intellectual property isn't likely to become any less messy any time soon.
And our friend Sherlock, in the meantime, seems to be winding up in court a lot more than Professor Moriarty ever did. He might start wishing he went over the falls too, if this keeps up.