Copyrights generally expire 70 years after the death of the original author, placing the works into the public domain where they are available to be freely used by new creators, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. Among the legendary works set to enter the public domain in 2023 is “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes,” the last remaining Sherlock Holmes mystery by Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A short story collection, “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes” was the center of a legal dispute between author Leslie Klinger and the Conan Doyle Estate in 2014 over Klinger’s collection, “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes,” which featured associates of Holmes and story elements from Conan Doyle’s original works.
The estate claimed that while nearly all of Conan Doyle’s original stories were already in the public domain, Klinger could not publish his collection because “The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes” collection was still under copyright. However, a federal judge in Chicago ruled against the estate. In 2020, the estate settled a separate legal dispute against the creators of the Netflix film “Enola Holmes.”
In that dispute, the estate again cited the collected “Case Book” stories, arguing that a new portrayal of Holmes as a woman infringed on their copyright. The judge ruled in favor of the estate in that case. Other books that will enter the public domain in 2023 include the 1927 novel “The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld” by Herbert Asbury.
The book inspired the 2002 Scorsese film “Gangs of New York.” Agatha Christie’s “The Big Four” mystery featuring Hercule Poirot also enters the public domain this year, as does Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop.” Others include works by noted authors William Faulkner (“Mosquitoes”), Ernest Hemingway (“Men Without Women”), and Virginia Woolf (“To the Lighthouse”). T
he 1927 film “The Jazz Singer” also enters the public domain in 2023.