Sherlock to take over the world after US court rules on copyright

Chicago judge's ruling means that the character of Sherlock can be used by film makers the world over and paves the way to scores of new film adaptations, according to reports

Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock would probably contend that the BBC1 drama is so great that it has already conquered the globe.


And they would certainly have a point – from China to the US, millions of people have become as captivated as us Brits about the particular magic of the modern day remake in which the curly-haired actor stars alongside Martin Freeman’s Afghan veteran Watson as they combat crime in modern-day London.

But now a legal ruling in America has paved the way for scores more adaptations, according to the Sunday Times, after a Chicago judge ruled that while some stories and plots are still protected by US copyright laws, the character of Holmes is not.

According to the paper, the ruling settles a case between the estate of Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and US writer Leslie Klinger. The paper says the case rested on whether Klinger could freely using the character in a collection of stories.

According to the paper, the US court ruled that the character was now in the public domain and “cannot be appropriated as private intellectual property”.

According to the Sunday Times, the Conan Doyle estate is expected to appeal against the court’s decision. But for the time being this seems likely to pave the way for more adaptations based on the character, in the US and across the world.

Already bespoke big budget versions of the Holmes story are planned in India and China, where the BBC series starring Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is already hugely popular – so much so that the two characters are nicknamed Curly Fu and Peanut.

The Indian media has already reported that Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor is in talks about playing a Punjabi version of Holmes and a big movie version is also being planned in Russia.

The BBC1 version of Sherlock premieres tonight on US public service channel PBS at 10pm Eastern Standard Time and will air after another British international drama success story, Downton Abbey.