Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate is trying to claim ownership over the version of the character featured in Netflix’s upcoming movie Enola Holmes because the Sherlock Holmes featured has ~feelings~.
According to a lawsuit filed in June, the Conan Doyle Estate is suing Netflix and Penguin Random House among others for copyright infringement and trademark violations, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Considering that most of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain and ripe for any wacky adaptations people want to make starring the detective, it’s a bold claim for the estate. But they’re arguing that because the Sherlock Holmes depicted in Enola Holmes has feelings, i.e. “connection and empathy,” he’s actually reflective of the Holmes featured in Conan Doyle’s last ten stories that aren’t in the public domain.
“When Conan Doyle came back to Holmes in the Copyrighted Stories between 1923 and 1927, it was no longer enough that the Holmes character was the most brilliant rational and analytical mind,” the complaint reads. “Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy.” Basically, an unfeeling, stoic Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, they claim, but an empathetic Holmes is subject to trademark and copyright.
Now, I haven’t read a lot of Sherlock Holmes aside from whatever I was forced to read in middle school, but I don’t remember Holmes being totally devoid of feeling. For example, I remember him being an asshole, and I think that counts as having feelings.