from the who-was-not-a-Jeopardy-contestant dept.
SCOTUSblog tells us:
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan refused on Thursday afternoon to block a federal appeals court ruling against continued copyright protection for fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, for any stories about him that have entered the public domain. Kagan acted without even asking for a response from an author who is preparing a new Holmes anthology, and she gave no explanation for her denial of a stay.
More background on the case and details about the filing in this detailed earlier SCOTUSblog post which notes:
[Sir Arthur Conan] Doyle has been dead for eighty-four years, but because of extensions of copyright terms, ten of his fifty-six short stories continue to be protected from copying. All of the short stories and four novels were published between 1887 and 1927, but all of the collection except ten short stories have entered into the public domain as copyrights expired.
The Doyle estate, though, is pressing a quite unusual copyright theory. It contends that, since Doyle continued to develop the characters of Holmes and Watson throughout all of the stories, the characters themselves cannot be copied even for what Doyle wrote about them in the works that are now part of the public domain and thus ordinarily would be fair game for use by others.