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‘Mr. Holmes’ Copyright Lawsuit Settled

The estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle has reached a settlement with the makers of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie “Mr. Holmes,” which the estate claimed infringed on stories that still remain under copyright.

“Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., Miramax, LLC, Roadside Attractions, LLC, and Bill Condon announce that the lawsuit filed by Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. against Miramax, Roadside Attractions, and Condon in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico has been settled to the satisfaction of these parties,” according to the statement issued by Miramax. “Miramax, Roadside Attractions, and Condon thank Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. for the use of certain material authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the film ‘Mr. Holmes.’”

In May, the Conan Doyle estate sued Miramax, Roadside Attractions and Condon over the movie, which starred Ian McKellen in the title role and opened in July. The lawsuit also named writer Mitch Cullin and Penguin Random House, publisher of Cullin’s “A Slight Trick of the Mind” — the Holmes tale on which the movie “Mr. Holmes” is based.

In September, Benjamin Allison, attorney for the estate, said they had reached an agreement in principle to settle the suit.

A settlement also was reached last summer between the estate and Cullin and publisher Penguin Random House. Allison said that the e-book version of “A Slight Trick of the Mind” now acknowledges “use of copyrighted material by kind permission of the Conan Doyle estate.”

The movie depicted an aged, retired Holmes looking back on his life and getting involved in an unsolved case.

The estate noted in its lawsuit that although many of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, 10 works published between 1923 and 1927 remain under copyright. Those works develop details of Holmes’ retirement and later life.

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