A Questionable Sherlock Holmes?

November 6, 2020
via Pixabay

If you’re a fan of detective stories, Sherlock Holmes might be a familiar name. The character, created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a clever, skilled, and super logical detective with an impressive observation power. With his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, Holmes solves mysteries in the United Kingdom, most notably from his apartment in London.

More recently, Netflix released a movie about his fictional sister, Enola Holmes. In the film, the smart sister solves crimes of her own and has a special bond with her older brother, Sherlock. The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t excited about this idea and sued Netflix for showing Sherlock Holmes, their beloved character, to be a man with feelings and one who respected women.

Wait, what? Sure, on the surface, it might seem unusual that a company is sued for showing a character to be one with feelings and who respects women. Aren’t those, in fact, good character traits? But the argument isn’t about what’s good—the estate is upset that Netflix depicted Doyle’s beloved character in a way that wasn’t approved by them. Let’s think of it this way, if a future movie showed Harry Potter to be a grumpy person who didn’t believe in good, loyal friends, would J. K. Rowling be happy or upset?

via Pixabay

But who came up with the character of Enola Holmes? Author Nancy Springer, who wrote a complete series on the character. Even though these are Springer’s stories, details in ten of them are still under copyright with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate. This copyright is the reason the Doyle estate wishes to sue Netflix. If Netflix wants to include a Sherlock Holmes who has feelings or respects women, they need to pay the Doyle estate a fee to allow them to do so.

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