Sherlock Legal Issues & A Third Season

Since CBS announced they were making a contemporary set Sherlock Holmes series entitled “Elementary”, many wondered how much of it was owed to the success of the BBC’s “Sherlock” and how closely it will match said property.

Turns out there’s more to the story than first realised. “Sherlock” producer Sue Vertue, who is also the wife of show co-creator Steven Moffat, says that before “Elementary” was announced CBS had approached those involved in “Sherlock” about a remake of the BBC hit according to The Independent.

That never eventuated. Shortly after however came the announcement of “Elementary”, a similar enough sounding show that it has not only raised concern but also early suggestions of possible legal action.

Vertue says “We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It’s interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.”

She goes on to say “We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.”

Most of Doyle’s works are in the public domain so CBS has every right to do a series based on the Sherlock Holmes character. Where it gets iffy is if “Elementary” starts outright lifting elements of “Sherlock” unique to that incarnation.

Copyright specialist Margaret Tofalides says “if the unusual elements of the BBC series – the modern settings, characters, clothes, plots and distinctive visual style – were closely reproduced in the CBS version, that could form the basis of a potential copyright claim.”

Meanwhile with the second season having recently aired in the UK, questions have turned towards a third season of “Sherlock” and its viability considering the busy commitments this year of actors Martin Freeman (both “The Hobbit” movies), Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek 2” & a brief “The Hobbit” stint) and show runner Steven Moffat (the seventh season of “Doctor Who”).

Moffat tells The Radio Times that those involved have no plans to leave the show and will keep doing this for some time to come, maybe even longer than we anticipate – “I fondly imagine it’d be nice to stop it for a while and come back and see what they’re like in their 40s or 50s” he says.

Moffat hasn’t committed to a date for the third season which many expect to be sometime in the first half of 2013. He does say “Get used to a bit of starvation. we’re making movies – those six films we’ve made could go in the cinema. You can’t factory produce that – it’s a different kind of show. So, when we’re good and ready – it won’t be that long – but when we’re ready, you’ll get the follow-up.”

Like the first season, the recent second season ended on a cliffhanger and the question of how those involved will get out of the situation. Turns out not only do they have a solution but they already shot a part of it as well when they were filming the final episode.