Doyleockian, like the soothsayer Calchas of old, comments on emerging points of conflict developing in the Sherlockian world and the potential for all out civil war between various camps. First referencing the now infamous Philip Shreffler editorial (“Elite Devotee Redux”)…
I am reblogging the always unadulteratedly awesome (you can trademark that if you want, Matt) Always1895 with inclusion of the comment I just wrote that is awaiting moderation on the Doyleockian blog post mentioned above. It is an excellent blog post, one well worth reading, but one I have responded to as follows:
I deeply appreciate the spirit in which this post is intended. I fear, however, one or two items may have been slightly mischaracterized—if only to my own eyes—and thought that I should make mention of them since the post was written in such tremendously good faith. Forgive me in advance, please, for making mention of anything you already know, and don’t imagine I write in any manner other than cordially.
1) It would be a mistake to imagine that the Klinger lawsuit burns any bridges that existed between the vast majority of American Sherlockians and the parties mentioned above (the Estate plaintiff and the author of the article). As a friend of Klinger’s and a 3-time attendee of the Estate rep’s Special Meeting, I can say with confidence that the latter party has publicly disavowed all association with the current BSI administration and its policies, and refused to attend its dinners, for years now. The notion that the lawsuit, a matter dealing with America’s abstruse copyright law, is declaring a “war” with previously amicable parties is simply factually untrue.
2) As you aptly say, the legal merits are for the courts to decide as regards intellectual property. The fact remains that 9 canonical cases remain in copyright, as was already decided previously in the 2004 Plunket vs. Case of Evil decision, of which you are perhaps unaware. In any event, to characterize it as a David and Goliath situation in Star Wars terms might be romantic prose but rings quite false to the insider (I duly paid the ACD Estate for DUST AND SHADOW and know both parties quite well). The ACD Estate is a very small number of people working on behalf of ACD’s delightful great-nephew (I like the man very much), who owns copyright on 9 ACD stories here. The overwhelming majority of American Sherlockians think this gives them no right to demand money from parties who are simply adapting the character of Sherlock Holmes. Regardless, entities who would benefit from this decision if it goes in Klinger’s direction (and again, the 2004 court case set that precedent unquestionably) include Warner Brothers, Elementary, etc, who I would hardly describe as plucky underdogs.
3) Finally, in case the “war,” as you describe it, seems frivolous or emotionally driven, may I add that under American copyright law, “fair use” cannot be determined until legal action has already been taken against you. Thus the instant capitulation on the part of all parties prior to this instance, and the *bigger* the company, the more likely they are to pay out to avoid future litigation. This legal action was taken because the Estate indicated to Klinger & King their project would be blocked via major retailers if they chose to proceed. It has not, thus far—in my wide experience of American Sherlockians, though of course I don’t claim to know everyone’s opinion—created a wave of hard feelings where hard feelings did not already exist.
Thank you for addressing this, and may I add my voice to yours in saying that Sherlockian inclusion and friendship is a far, far better thing than division, and that your sentiments on the subject are admirable.