(Bloomberg ) For Jonathan Kirsch, a Los Angeles attorney, it's elementary: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary works published before 1923 are in the public domain.
Kirsch and Scott Gilbert of Chicago's Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP are seeking to have the federal court in Chicago declare that most of Doyle's books and stories involving his most famous creation -- Sherlock Holmes -- are no longer protected by copyright law.
The attorneys represent Leslie Klinger, an author who has written extensively on Holmes. Most recently, Klinger co-edited "A Study in Sherlock," a Random House-published "collection of new and original short stories by prominent contemporary authors, all of which were inspired by" the Doyle stories, according to the complaint. He and his co-editor, Laurie King, are working on a sequel that is, according to the complaint, to be published by Pegasus Books and distributed by W.W. Norton.
The complaint alleges that while Random House agreed to a licensing agreement with the agent of the Conan Doyle estate, Pegasus Books hasn't, spurring Klinger to file suit to clarify the copyright question.
"Part of the reason we're litigating the question is because Sherlock Holmes has entered popular western culture in a fundamental way. Filmmakers and authors have a stock of material that they can innovate on -- like the Bible and Shakespeare. We believe that Sherlock Holmes has also entered that stock of public domain material that anyone can innovate on," Kirsch said in a telephone interview on Feb. 15.
Benjamin Allison, an attorney with Sutin Thayer & Browne APC in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represents the Conan Doyle Estate. Allison didn't respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment.
The case is Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd, 1:13-cv- 01226, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
Zynga, Electronic Arts Agree to Settle Copyright Suit Claims
Electronic Arts Inc. and Zynga Inc. agreed to settle claims that Zynga's "The Ville" game copied "The Sims Social," an EA game that runs on Facebook.
"EA and Zynga have resolved their respective claims and have reached a settlement of their litigation in the Northern District of California," Zynga spokeswoman Kelly Kunz and John Reseburg, an EA spokesman, said in separate e-mailed statements.
Electronic Arts, the second-biggest U.S. video-game publisher, had originally sued Zynga in August, claiming in a suit filed in federal court in San Francisco that senior executives who left for Zynga had details about "The Sims Social" strategy and development.
Zynga, the biggest developer of games played on Facebook, had countersued, seeking to bar Electronic Arts from threatening litigation or interfering with its hiring. It called the copyright claims meritless and said Electronic Arts' suit breached the terms of an earlier settlement.
The settlement was first disclosed in a court filing in the lawsuit. Neither company would provide details of the accord.
The case is Electronic Arts v. Zynga, 12-4099, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Megaupload Trying to Avoid Criminal Procedures, Prosecutors Say
Megaupload.com, the file-sharing website closed by the U.S., is trying to circumvent criminal procedure rules with claims including an accusation the government lied to get search warrants, prosecutors said.
The website's claims are unfounded, they said in a filing Feb. 14 in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The U.S. accused Megaupload of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files when it shut the site last year.
The U.S. and Megaupload are in dispute over the file- sharing site's request to be allowed to take part in a civil lawsuit, filed by a U.S. man seeking to recover the data he stored on the website. Megaupload claims the U.S. misled the courts in obtaining warrants to shut down its websites, while the prosecutors argue the file-sharing site is seeking to illegally get information to defend itself in the criminal case.
"Megaupload has supplied nothing but a conspiracy theory," in an attempt to be included in the civil lawsuit, the U.S. said in its filing. "Megaupload should not be able to use its participation in civil litigation as a sword to circumvent criminal discovery rules."
Kyle Goodwin, who had started a business reporting on local high school sporting events in Ohio and stored videos on Megaupload, sued the U.S. to recover those files. The judge ruled he couldn't make a decision without an evidentiary hearing.
Megaupload sought to intervene in the case, arguing it has relevant facts and is in the best position to retrieve Goodwin's data. It said the issues of data preservation and consumer access are linked to its criminal defense.
Kim Dotcom, 39, the founder of Megaupload, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a "mega conspiracy." If convicted, he faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment.
The U.S. shut down Megaupload without notice after charges against seven individuals, including Dotcom, were unsealed in court in January, 2012.
Megaupload's lawyer Ira Rothken said in an e-mail Feb. 15 that the U.S. is trying to concoct a way out of taking responsibility for injuring millions of consumers.
The case is USA v. Dotcom. 12-cr-00003. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria). The extradition case is between Kim Dotcom and Attorney-General, Civ 2012-404-1928, High Court of New Zealand (Auckland).
Facebook Wins Ruling in Jurisdiction Fight With German Regulator
Facebook Inc. scored a court victory in Germany in a dispute with a local data regulator over which nation's laws apply to its European operations.
The administrative court for Schleswig-Holstein suspended enforcement of an order saying Facebook must let users register under a pseudonym. The order is most likely illegal and shouldn't apply while Facebook fights it, the court said on a statement on its website Feb. 15.
"The regulator wrongfully based its order on German data protection law," the judges said. "Irish data protection law exclusively applies," because Facebook handles the data in Ireland.
Facebook has been fighting orders from German regulators, arguing it's only subject to Irish law which is generally less strict then German privacy rules. Facebook Ireland, in Dublin, is responsible for all the Palo Alto, California-based company's users outside the U.S. and Canada.
Thilo Weichert, the state regulator who issued the pseudonym order, said he will appeal the ruling. German law clearly backs his order, he said in a statement on his website. Companies shouldn't be allowed to withdraw to a European member state with "low data protection standard," according to his statement.
European rules say German law doesn't apply if the data is processed by a branch in another EU member state, the court said. Facebook's German unit only works in marketing and sales and thus can't trigger the application of German data protection law, the judges said.