Enola Holmes was shown on Netflix in 2020 and Millie Bobby Brown played Sherlock Holmes’ teenage sister.
No one thought the movie would cause controversy due to the friendly perception of Holme’s world as evidenced by Nancy Springer’s book, but this was not the case. All this was caused by Sherlock being emotional.
The film was at the center of a lawsuit in which the complainant, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, filed a lawsuit through his representatives for trademark and copyright infringement.
Millie acts as Sherlock Holme’s sister. Henry Cavill plays Sherlock Holmes. Other cast members include Fiona Shaw, Sam Claflin and Helena Bonham Carter. The charges filed by the estate were against the production company, Legendary Pictures, Netflix, Penguin Random House and Nancy Springer.
It was originally going to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures, but the distribution rights were acquired by Netflix. This was due to the COVID-19.
It was officially released in September 2020. It was well received and became one of the most watched movies, with more than 76 million homes watching it within the first month of its release.
Representatives of the author, Doyle’s Legacy, stated that while most of his stories are in the public domain, the last few chapters about the character, created between 1923 and 1927, are private, and this includes the details about his emotions that have been recorded. in Springer’s version.
According to reliable sources, the estate wanted a trial involving a jury, exemption from further trademark and copyright infringement and damages.
The accused parties did not immediately respond, although it appears that this has not affected the release of the film since its official launch in 2020. The case was brought before a court in New Mexico.
The representatives stated: “The copyright infringement arises from the unauthorized copying of original creative expression by Doyle in copyrighted Sherlock Holmes stories. In World War I, Conan Doyle lost his eldest son, Arthur Alleyne Kingsley. Four months later, he lost his brother, Brigadier General Innes Doyle. After the stories that are now in the public domain, and before the copyrighted stories, the Great War happened,”
They continued, “When Conan Doyle returned to Holmes in the copyrighted stories between 1923 and 1927, it was no longer enough that Holmes’ character was the most brilliantly rational and analytical mind. Holmes had to be human. The character had to have human connection and develop empathy.”
The basic concept is that in the movie adaptation and book series, Sherlock is seen responding to her sister with “kindness”, so it probably violates the copyrighted version of the estate.
The problem is whether Sherlock’s emotions can be copyrighted and whether his portrayal in the film is derivative.
Defendant’s response to the allegations
This wasn’t the first time Doyle’s estate had sued over the portrayal of Holmes in a case brought against Miramax, in which Sir Ian McKellen starred as a retired Holmes reminiscing about his life.
The case also alleged that the film violated copyrights because it copied elements from the final chapters, such as falling in love with nature and its personal warmth. The lawsuit has been settled to the satisfaction of the entities involved.
The defendants replied that personality traits, feelings and emotions could not be protected.
They stated, “Even if the emotion property and respect property were original to copyrighted works, which they are not, they are unprotectable ideas. Copyright does not allow ownership of generic concepts such as warmth, kindness, empathy or respect. not even as expressed by a public domain character—which, of course, belongs to the public, not to the plaintiff.”
The case was dropped because all parties had indicated that there was a prejudice.
This meant that the case may have been settled, although it’s hard to say. Aaron Moss stated: “Sherlock Holmes may be able to figure it out unless he’s too busy deciding where to vacation once the last of his stories come into the public domain. [in the US] in two years.”