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Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
It has been two years since Jon Rosenberg announced that he was giving up on Goats, his long-running webcomic, because, basically, the webcomics medium doesn’t seem to be a good fit for long-form stories. He might be right. Webcomics are very good for engaging readers and getting them involved in an ongoing storyline, but it’s hard to read a long story one bite at a time, and flipping through the archives can be tiresome. As Rosenberg put it at the time:
While I’m happy with what I’ve done creatively, the webcomics medium rewards quick, easy updates with traffic. Long, continuity-filled stories like Goats that take a long time between updates tend to stagnate, although there are certainly folks more talented than I who can pull off this difficult feat.
And because he had other obligations, he decided to stop working on Goats even though he had a definite end in mind for the story that was about a year away. Instead, he started a new webcomic Scenes from a Multiverse, which delivers a gag a day, no continuity required.