Sherlock Holmes Saves Mars
He can do that now.
Arthur Conan Doyle published his first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet in 1887. His last, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, was a collection of short stories published from 1921-1927. Now, as decided by the Supreme Court on June 16, 2014, of the fifty-six stories and four novels written (all but the few stories written after 1923) forty-six stories and all four novels are now in the public domain.
Here’s a short primer how copyright works for writers who believe they will hit it big and then die dead and leave the rights to support their families. That’s what we all hope, right? Well, except for the dead part.
Anything you wrote after 1978 is protected by copyright for your lifetime plus seventy years. Your money goes to you. Then, after you are dragged screaming into the otherworld, it goes to your children, and maybe even to your grandchildren for seventy years. After that, it goes to the public domain and anyone can use it as they like. If you want your copyright to last longer, you need to live a good and healthy long life and maybe go outside sometimes or to the gym.