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The Enola Holmes Lawsuit Is Because Sherlock Holmes Has Feelings

The Enola Holmes trailer may have gotten the internet thirsty for Henry Cavill‘s bulging neck in tiny Victorian clothing yesterday, but not everyone is excited about the Netflix movie starring Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock Holme’s 14-year-old sister. Specifically, the estate of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle isn’t too happy about the Netflix film. So unhappy, in fact, that the estate filed a lawsuit against Netflix, Legendary Pictures, Penguin Random House, and others—including author Nancy Springer, who wrote the Enola Holmes book series that the Netflix film is based on—that claimed copyright infringement and trademark violations back in June. The reason? Because Cavill’s version of Sherlock Holmes caught feelings.

What is the Enola Holmes lawsuit about?

I’m no copyright lawyer, but according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter when the lawsuit was filed in June, the basic gist is this: The Doyle Estate lost most of the rights to Sherlock Holmes in 2014 when it was ruled by a judge that all Sherlock Holmes stories published before the year 1923 were now in the public domain. This includes pretty much all of the major Holmes stories that you know and love, the first of which—A Study in Scarlet—was published in 1887. That’s why we now have all kinds of fun Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

However, the Doyle estate still retains the rights to Arthur Conan Doyle’s last 10 original stories, which were written between 1923 and 1927. Elements that are “original” to those last 10 stories still fall under copyright law. In this Enola Holmes lawsuit, the estate argues that it is not until those last 10 stories that the famous detective ever showed any true emotion.

“After the stories that are now in the public domain, and before the Copyrighted Stories, the Great War happened,” read the complaint in the legal document. “In World War I Conan Doyle lost his eldest son, Arthur Alleyne Kingsley. Four months later he lost his brother, Brigadier-general Innes Doyle. 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. Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy.”

Apparently, the version Sherlock Holmes depicted in the Enola Holmes stories has feelings (gross), which means the estate claims they have ownership over that version of the character. Honestly, this explains so much about Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock.

The Doyle estate has sued over Holmes before—like when they lodged a complaint against Miramax over the film Mr. Holmes in 2015, which was later settled. There haven’t been any updates since this most recent one was filed in June, but we do know the movie is still set to come out next month on Netflix.

Enola Holmes will stream on Netflix on September 23.

Watch Enola Holmes on Netflix

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