While people all over the world celebrated the birth of Santa Claus and great deals on spiral ham, one well known intellectual property was in the midst of losing everything. According to the New York Times, a federal judge in the United States has ruled that the fifty Sherlock Holmes stories published before 1923 are in the public domain, leaving them without a multinational media conglomerate to control their cross-branded marketing synergy.
"When I think about those poor Sherlock Holmes stories, all alone on the Christmas holiday, owned collectively by all of humanity, I get sick to my stomach," said Disney CEO Bob Iger, reportedly. "Can you imagine all of that IP, out there in the cold, with only the derivative works of all the people on Earth to keep it warm? It's so sad!"
Truly, in this day and age, when so many properties have been successfully wrested away from the people who created them and placed under the loving care of billionaire corporate masters, where they will remain forever thanks to ever-expanding copyright law and an American political system of legalized bribery, it's a shame to see a character as well known and potentially profitable as Sherlock Holmes relegated to the public domain, where anyone can enjoy his stories or use them to create new tales without being sued for billions of dollars by a corporate entity with more rights than people.
"It's a dark day in American history when the artistic legacy of the human race can be cared for so little that its left in the hands of the people, instead of in the care of a huge, soulless corporation where it can be defended by a massive team of lawyers for all of eternity as copyright gets expanded every time Mickey Mouse gets close to the public domain again," read a prepared statement from President Obama this morning. "I think, despite our political differences, all Americans can agree that the cultural inheritance of the planet Earth, just like most of its wealth, belongs in the hands of the few, not the many. The failure to keep Sherlock Holmes out of the hands of the American people is the greatest mistake of my presidency. Worse than Obamacare."
While the loss of these stories represents a major blow for the beleaguered plutocrats who control society, we can at least take solace in the fact that the ten Sherlock Holmes stories published after 1923 remain in the hands of Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. Hopefully, in the new year, a larger corporation with a bigger team of lawyers can wrest those stories from the estate before they're lost to the clutches of the public domain as well. We're pulling for you, Warner Bros.!