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View Diary: Character names by Arthur Conan Doyle (65 comments)

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  •  As the Author of "Sherlock Holmes in Space"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Brecht, Aunt Pat

    ...Tuesday at 8 PM Eastern here on dkos, I try to give credit to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before each free chapter - and they are all free - (I think I missed one or two).

    My understanding is that in the US, the major characters of Holmes, Watson, et al are available for use. (There are a few stories that are still under copyright protection.) I think the moral obligation, though, for any writer using the Doyle characters is to be true to the Doyle canon - to an extent. In, "Holmes in Space" I've tried to imagine how Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson would react if transported across space and time.

    I've created characters in other works (and supporting characters in this series) and my experience is that the characters evolve as they are being written. But at some point the character achieves independence and autonomy. Even the creator of the character then needs to respect that.

    best,

    john

    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 11:41:52 AM PST

    •  As I said in my introduction... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, Aunt Pat, Brecht

      The trademark and copyright issues on the Doyle characters and stories are very complicated and murky.

      It was widely believed back when Star Trek: The Next Generation was in production that the producers messed up, thinking Holmes and Watson were public domain when they used them in the episode "Elementary My Dear Data."

      This is not true. Paramount's legal department was very aware of the copyright and trademark status of those characters and negotiated a license to use them in Star Trek before the fact, and at considerable cost.

      To tell the truth, I'm not certain either way (major Doyle characters public domain or not), after reading what I read this morning.

      And if you want to split hairs, whether or not you're making money on your story is irrelevant when it comes to trademark and copyright infringement issues. This is a common misconception held by writers of fan fiction. It's not whether you made money that counts. It's whether your use of the characters could COST the owners of the licenses money or control -- say if your story got so popular that people started thinking of you as the owner of the character rather than the person who owns it.

      I don't say that to discourage you from continuing to write your story. I just want to clarify the issue when it comes to copyright and trademark infringement.

      At the end of the day, if you haven't got a cease and desist letter from the owner of the characters, you've got no problem.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 11:53:57 AM PST

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