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Sherlock Holmes and Other Works That Will Enter Public Domain in 2023


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Sherlock Holmes and Other Works That Will Enter Public Domain in 2023

The beloved Baker Street detective, Sherlock Holmes, has influenced many fanatics of crime fiction over decades. Conan Doyle’s estate battled with lawyer Leslie S. Klinger over the rights to publish stories centering on the detective. Then In 2013, a judge ruled that Klinger had the right to publish pre-1923 Holmes stories.

Over the years, earlier Holmes stories have entered the public domain one after the other. Now the last two Holmes stories Doyle wrote, “The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger,” and “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place,” will join the public domain, fully bringing the character into fair use.

When the New Year hits, a host of other characters and creative works will be freed from their legal bonds and available for anyone to use as they see fit.

In the United States, this year works created in 1927 will enter the public domain from January 1st, 2023. The Public Domain Review offers a clear insight into the various policies that countries follow regarding the public domain. Countries including UK, Russia, most of the EU and South America, follow a copyright term of “life plus 70 years”. So works by people who died in 1952 will enter the public domain now. For New Zealand, and most of Africa and Asia, where the copyright term is “life plus 50 years”, works by people who died in 1972 will be free for the public to use.

Another work entering the public domain is the science-fiction drama film, Metropolis. The German expressionist film introduced the world to sci-fi epics and changed the trajectory of design and visual effects in film. The movie follows a futuristic dystopia filled with wealthy industrialists who live in pleasure palaces, underground workers who power their great machines and robots who pretend to be people. Metropolis paved the way for movies like Blade Runner and The Matrix from the science fiction dystopia genre that we love so much today.

Image Source: The Public Review Domain

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller, will also cross the border to the public domain. Men Without Men by Earnest Hemingway, and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf will also be fair use.

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Songs from Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Irving Berlin top the list of music now free to use. Works by Surrealist Paul Éluard will enter the public domain in countries with copyright of “life plus 70 years”.

Portrait of Paul Éluard by Salvador Dali
Image Source: The Public Review Domain

Works of fiction entering the public domain paves the way for experimentation with the work that we already admire. Last year, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain. Not long after, Jagged Edge Productions announced a horror movie about him called Blood and Honey.

Official movie poster.
Image Source: @jaggededge_productions / Instagram

One of the most anticipated fictional franchise that is yet to enter the public domain is Disney’s Mickey Mouse. The nearly-century-old cartoon will soon enter the public domain when its copyright expires in 2024. The anthropomorphic mouse has become the face of Walt Disney Co. over the decades. Even though the copyright will expire, Mickey Mouse is trademarked, which adds complications. Trademarks do not expire over time as copyrights do. Basically, this means that any use of the 1928 Mickey Mouse cannot include any elements that come later. It cannot be confused as a Disney product. It’s unclear where Disney will draw the legal lines around Mickey Mouse after his copyright expires.

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