Public Domain, My Dear Watson

I can't link to it as I am on a phone at the moment, but according to the New York Times a Federal judge has stated that Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain in the U.S., save for some details written years later. No need to pay the estate a fee. Sherlock Holmes now joins such illustrious alumni as Cthulhu, thd Green Lama, and Night of the Living Dead in the public domain.

Does anyone know what the criteria for public domain is?

most of sherlock HAS been public domain, the person claiming copyright was using some iffy standards to claim all stories after richenbacher falls. Glad to hear she finally got shut down.

cassanders, there are some things that complicate matters, but generally, 70 years after the death of an author, their work enters public domain.

People can hold on to the copyright after the death of the author. This group requiring the fees was Conan Doyle Estate Limited, which claims to be owned by the family of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

There's also some other confusing elements where you can have a character who is public domain and a portrayal of the character that isn't, like with the public domain superheroes used in the comic Project Superpowers. There's another odd case there with Daredevil. Yeah, there's a public domain superhero named Daredevil, but due to the famous Marvel character, you can't use that name to refer to the older one.

There's also some odd stuff where you have well known characters who are public domain, but whose names are trademarked. From what I read on this one FAQ, you can use Plastic Man and Blue Beetle as much as you like as long as you give them different names.

Despite Marvel owning the name and DC owning the character that's still published, I could have a story with Captain Marvel in it based on his original Fawcett Comics appearances, though I think they urge some caution about that.

For reference, this site is what I'm going by:

And it also serves as a repository of public domain and open source superheroes and villains, which might be useful for populating the history of some people's superhero stories.

Casanders, about the best I can in general is to provide this:

And, after doing some reading, edit it to note that published works from before 1923 are all supposedly public domain.

Considering there are currently two ongoing TV versions and a recent film series, I'm quite surprised to discover it wasn't already public domain...

Some aspects already were public domain but anything published after 1923 remains in doubt. (

Most of the current works we have seen were done under some kind of agreement with the Doyle estate....

The other issue is US copyright vs other copyright. WE are not exactly in agreement in how it's handled around the world so what you may be able to attempt to write here may not be distributable outside the US.