Enola Holmes turned out to be a big hit for Netflix in September, with audiences loving the Sherlock Holmes spinoff starring Millie Bobby Brown as the Great Detective’s eponymous little sister. However, the movie hasn’t gone down so well with the estate of Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who announced that they were suing the streaming giant for its presentation of Sherlock.
The Doyle estate claims that Enola Holmes’ portrayal of the icon displays character traits – a greater emotional range, more respect towards women, etc. – that originate from the last few stories Doyle ever wrote, which are yet to fall into the public domain. Doyle’s family isn’t just suing Netflix, but has also included Legendary Pictures, screenwriter Jack Thorne, director Harry Bradbeer and author Nancy Springer, on whose books the film is based, in its case.
But now the defendants have officially hit back at the lawsuit. Attorney Nicolas Jampol, who’s representing all those named in the Doyle’s claim, set out his argument against the case in a motion to dismiss filed on Friday. He argued that more than 50 of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are “undeniably in the public domain” and said that the estate is trying to wrongly force third parties to pay for using the iconic character in their works.
He also dismissed that the estate could quantify Holmes’ personality in this way, arguing that it’s a “fundamental tenet” of copyright law that the likes of a character’s feelings, emotions and traits are “unprotectable.” In any case, he presented evidence wherein Holmes displayed some of the traits mentioned in much earlier stories than the estate claims. For instance, he produced a tale published in 1892 which demonstrates the detective treating a woman with “nothing but kindness and respect.”
We’ll have to see how this case progresses, but the defense certainly makes a lot of strong points. And Netflix will be keen to get this matter sorted ASAP so that they can move forward with that Enola Holmes sequel.