Founded in 1951, the Society is open to anyone with an interest in Sherlock Holmes, Dr John H. Watson and their world. It is a literary and social Society, publishing a scholarly Journal and occasional papers, and holding meetings, dinners and excursions.
London , 1950. St Marylebone Borough Council was hard at work trying to decide how to celebrate the Festival of Britain the following year. The Public Libraries Committee suggested an exhibition about Sherlock Holmes. Others on the council were not impressed – 'is this character, associated with murky crime, the best we have to offer' someone demanded. Why not do something on slum clearance? Letters began appearing in The Times – from Dr Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Inspector Lestrade – seventeen of them in all. Some even said that they had some mementoes of Sherlock Holmes, and offered to lend them for exhibition. Bowed down by public opinion, the Council relented. A small group of enthusiasts got together to plan the exhibition. Eagerly they designed and collected – a Persian slipper for Holmes’s tobacco, a gasogene for Watson's soda, a jack-knife for Holmes to skewer his unanswered correspondence to the mantelpiece. On an upper floor of Abbey House, the Baker Street headquarters of Abbey National, a meticulously detailed recreation of the famous sitting room at 221B took shape. Fresh crumpets – bitten into by two different sets of teeth – were supplied every day by a local bakery. Over 54,000 people came to see it. It was a triumph.
The US Supreme Court has refused to hear an emergency petition from the heirs of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who are trying to stop the publication of a book based on Sherlock Holmes.
Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated to the court by President Obama, dismissed the plea without explanation. The family say Leslie Klinger and Laurie R King should pay a licence fee for using Conan Doyle's characters. An earlier appeals court decision ruled against the Scottish author's estate. The seventh US circuit court of appeals in Chicago said that the character of Sherlock, along with 46 stories and four novels in which he has appeared, was in the public domain.
However, 10 further stories, published between 1923 and 1927, are still protected by US copyright, which expires in December 2022. Sir Arthur's estate have argued this copyright protection means that anyone creating original stories based on Sherlock should pay for the privilege.
Klinger, a known authority on the cerebral detective, handed over the $5,000 (£2,923) licensing fee when he published A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon, in 2011. But when it came to publishing a second volume, he decided to withhold the money, leading Conan Doyle's estate to threaten legal action. "If you proceed instead to bring out Study in Sherlock II unlicensed, do not expect to see it offered for sale by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and similar retailers," they wrote.
"We work with those [companies] routinely to weed out unlicensed uses of Sherlock Holmes from their offerings, and will not hesitate to do so with your book as well." However, Klinger sued the estate first, arguing the characters were in the public domain and no fee was due. The appeals court sided with him on 16 June and now, it appears, the Supreme Court has agreed.
Conan Doyle's heirs told the AFP news agency they would follow up the decision "in the coming months" and looked forward to presenting their arguments in a petition to review the lower court's decision. Meanwhile, Klinger has petitioned the courts to require the estate to pay his legal fees of $70,000 (£40,929
The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been ordered to pay the legal costs of an author who successfully challenged their copyright.
Leslie Klinger took the estate to court after being told he should pay a licence fee for writing new stories based on Conan Doyle's characters. A US appeal court ruled the copyright had expired, and said the estate had been "disreputable" in levying fees. It ordered the estate to pay Klinger $30,679.93 (£18,183.45) in costs. That figure does not include the $39,123.44 (£23,187.45) Klinger paid out in legal fees in the district court prior to his successful appeal, for which he has filed a separate petition.
The US Court of Appeal described the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd's efforts to charge licence fees to for which there is "no legal basis" as "a disreputable business practice". "The strategy had worked with Random House; Pegasus was ready to knuckle under; only Klinger (so far as we know) resisted," the appeal court wrote in its ruling. "In effect he (Klinger) was a private attorney general, combating a disreputable business practice - a form of extortion - and he is seeking by the present motion not to obtain a reward but merely to avoid a loss. "He has performed a public service - and with substantial risk to himself, for had he lost he would have been out of pocket," it continued. "For exposing the estate's unlawful business strategy, Klinger deserves a reward but asks only to break even."
The court also took issue with the estate's negotiations with book retailers, saying it was "playing with fire" by "asking Amazon and other booksellers to cooperate with it in enforcing its nonexistent copyright claims against Klinger". The court's statement concluded: "It's time the estate, in its own self-interest, changed its business model."
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Official Facebook page for the British TV series Sherlock, produced by Hartswood Films. This is a page from BBC Worldwide, trading as BBC Studios, who help fund new BBC programmes.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson's adventures in 21st Century London. A thrilling, funny, fast-paced contemporary reimagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic. Made by Hartswood Films.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Andrew Scott, Amanda Abbington
Written By:Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Stephen Thompson