Arthur Conan Doyle's classic character Sherlock Holmes first appeared in a story published in 1887. One hundred twenty-six years later, a federal judge in Illinois has ruled that the character of the great detective is in the public domain, free for all the public to use.
The victory for the public, however, is not complete. The judge noted that story elements introduced after 1922 (such as Watson's second wife or Holmes's retirement) remain protected by copyright, so creators who want to use Holmes in their stories still need to be careful.
You can read the court's ruling here.