May 08, 2008 | Becky Hogge

BBC removes Doctor Who fan's knitting patterns from the Web

An Ood, knitted by Mazz Update#2: The BBC have agreed to meet with Mazz and turn her knitted designs into, at the very least, a limited edition of exclusive promotional products. Apparently the production team love her works and can't wait to get their own. Although we're pleased with this outcome, intellectual property law is still in urgent need of reform and similar situations will continue to arise until this is addressed. The Government have agreed to look at the question and popular outcry over this story shows the urgency of the matter.

Update: Thanks to this article published by The Times today, the ORG phones have been buzzing all morning. BBC Worldwide have released a statement (copied in the comments below) and Mazz has updated her homepage to reflect what's been going on. If you appreciate the work ORG does to raise the profile of digital rights issues like this one, please consider becoming an Open Rights Group supporter.



The Open Rights Group often receive calls from UK citizens who have found themselves on the wrong end of online copyright disputes. Because we're not a legal advice service, very often we cannot offer them any help. We're working on a way to change this situation - watch this space for an announcement in the Autumn. In the meantime we tend to pass these queries onto our informal law-discuss list for further analysis.

This week, Andres Guadamuz, who sits on the list, has published details of a very interesting dispute between the BBC and a knitting enthusiast and Doctor Who fan who goes by the screen name of Mazzmatazz. Mazz has been posting knitting patterns to help other people re-create characters from the cult series using only two sticks and ball of wool. Impressive? The BBC, producers of the series, didn't think so. They sent Mazz a letter, which states:

"We note that you are supplying DR WHO items, and using trade marks and copyright owned by BBC. You have not been given permission to use the DR WHO brand and we ask that you remove from your site any designs connected with DR WHO. Please reply acknowledging receipt of this email, and confirm that you will remove the DR WHO items as requested."

Fearing legal action, Mazz has now removed the knitting patterns from the Web.


As part of our response to OfCom's public service broadcasting review, we'll be making arguments similar to those we made last Summer during the iPlayer/DRM debate. That is, that in the future, organisations like the BBC with a public service remit should have a role in stimulating the creative economy in the UK, by allowing budding creators to remix its content. Even if this is only allowed to happen in a non-commercial context, the BBC could seed a new generation of creators and remixers, just as it nurtured a generation of computer games developers in the 1980s with its computer literacy project, centred around the iconic BBC micro.

This approach doesn't mean giving all the BBC's content away for free, although in some situations that might be appropriate. But it does mean being more flexible in the approach the BBC takes to controlling who gets to use its content and how. The approach the BBC have taken with Mazz's knitting patterns demonstrate a distinct lack of flexibility. It is quite possible that through transforming the characters in Doctor Who into knitting patterns, Mazz may have infringed upon the BBC's copyright. But it's hard to see how Mazz's non-commercial knitting patterns actually damage the commercial interests of the BBC.

The situation also touches on the growing need for UK copyright law to allow transformative use of works. In 2006, the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property asked the UK Intellectual Property Office to propose amendments to the European Copyright Directive that allowed for creative, transformative or derivative works. In ORG's recent submission to the UK IPO, we urged the UK IPO to take this recommendation forward. For a compelling legal analysis of the issues that Mazz's sitaution touches upon, including the tricky area of transformative use of works, visit Andres's blog, Technollama.

Comments (70)

  1. Wow, really?:
    Jul 27, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    What a joke! Knitters could have come up with this pattern, but Mazz kindly offered hers for free. It's not hurting anyone, it's merely showing love for the show. Does this mean that the Beeb are going to stop children from drawing The Tardis? Parent from telling children homespun Dr Who stories at bedtime? Total lunacy, that my Licence Money is supporting. Well, not anymore.

    And I'm off to knit myself a Dalek, so there.

  2. Miriam:
    May 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Given the number of comments and the great basic consensus in our points of view, I think we should bring on a petition. There is no other way to describe the BBC's behaviour other than to call it thoroughbred bullying. They are waging war against fan sites, when really they should be glad anyone bothers. If anything it's free promotion for them - but they consider it stealing from their intellectual property.
    So, who's up for starting a petition?

  3. BBC steals copyright image from Flickr for News 24 | BitterWallet:
    Feb 10, 2009 at 01:09 PM

    [...] with an injunction. Unofficial fan sites for BBC shows have been closed down in the past, even knitting patterns based on Doctor Who characters have been dealt with in an impersonal and non-nonsense [...]

  4. The Open Rights Group : Blog Archive » Growing the ORG community - and having fun doing it:
    Jul 29, 2008 at 11:28 AM

    [...] Not explain to MPs and record companies why DRM was a dead-end technology (done that). Not marshall a team of election observers to uncover e-voting bungling that could have swayed an election, and put electronic voting on the back-burner for years (tick). Not singlehandedly beat back the music industry’s lobbying for copyright term extension in the UK (yawn, done it). Not even make sure Britain was safe for knitted Dr Who monsters everywhere (well, you get the idea). [...]

  5. Colin:
    May 19, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    I am amazed that the BBC were able to register the police box as a trademark since they did not design it and had already existed for years for police and public use.

  6. Question here....:
    Nov 20, 2008 at 05:24 PM

    All the articles I've read are vague. Does BBC have any REAL legal standing here? She ought to just tell BBC to piss off and keep the patterns up. She's not breaking any laws (if she's in the US) and it doesn't sound like BBC has intent to press charge-- merely to intimidate. Host those patterns! Far and wide!

  7. Blog Relations » Joined Open Rights:
    Aug 14, 2008 at 02:32 PM

    [...] rights issues. Glyn told us all about the BBC’s attempt to bully a lady who published a Dr. Who Knitting pattern. And Hansard’s failure to leap down the throat of They Work For You. I think the Open Rights [...]

  8. Musing very lazily about copyright:
    Jun 01, 2008 at 08:43 PM

    [...] time around it was the now-famous story of Mazz, the knitting blogger who published patterns for Adiposes and Oods on her web site. [Note: If you [...]

  9. Myke:
    Jul 08, 2008 at 04:11 AM

    Well, its a merchandise and i think if you own a shop you would want to sell something that other people would be familiar right? how about those cake shops with logo designs of disney characters for instance.. would that be also a case of copyright since they're making money out of walt disney's mickey mouse character?

  10. Sci-fi-female:
    Jul 14, 2008 at 11:22 PM

    Well, I have crochet a TARDIS panel for a friends birthday, knitted fair-isle Dalek cardie for my daughter and sewed a cuddly TARDIS for her as well. Also made a few scarfs. Will I get sued?

  11. Vonski:
    Jul 27, 2008 at 01:14 PM

    That's wrong. I mean, if the BBC are gonna be so picky, they may as well sue me for my various Dr Who sketches I give out to fellow fans as gifts, my RPG site...get a life BBC and get over it. You should be thankful someone likes the show enough to actually make something from it. AND ay least she is making WORTHWHILE products. I mean, since when can you cuddle a Tardis Money bank, or a 5 inch Doctor??

  12. Miss Demeanour:
    Jun 29, 2008 at 08:40 PM

    If you're unhappy at how the BBC are treating innocent people, then there's some simple things you can do to protest: 1) write and complain, or 2) STOP PAYING THE LICENCE FEE.

  13. Doctor Who (may contain spoilers) - Page 13 - Ceroc Scotland Forum:
    Jul 02, 2008 at 10:48 AM

    [...] Beo Aren't these cute? Shame the BBC threatened legal action on the knitter of the Ood. The Open Rights Group : Blog Archive

  14. gecks:
    Jun 14, 2008 at 07:13 AM

    joss said "Oh, and a note about parody. Taking a design, copying it and then selling it for profit does not count as parody - it counts as theft."

    dunno about world wide, but as far as Weird Al is concerned, it was stated that parodying songs does not require permision, etc etc, however, out of the goodness of Al's heart, he contacts the artists which he wishes to parody and get they're permission anyway....

    it's in his q & a page somewhere....

  15. Ian:
    May 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM

    Does this mean that BBC will sue anyone who wears a homemade dalek costume for carnival,or names his dog K-9? This is getting stupid

  16. An IP risk-free summer and tips for safe-knitting « Tech IT Easy:
    May 29, 2008 at 02:12 AM

    [...] removed these elements from her website and searched for support from the Open Rights Group on this intriguing situation. It’s not everyday that you risk legal prosecution for buying [...]

  17. Settlers of Catan — Homemade Version «
    May 27, 2008 at 05:41 PM

    [...] When I get the pieces made as I’d like them, I’ll be sure to post pictures and such. I may even call it my own version of the game, so that I don’t have to fuss with trademark issues by posting such things on the web, just as another website has recently gotten in trouble for doing lately. [...]

  18. andy ross:
    Jun 19, 2008 at 10:48 PM

    BBC...Dear oh dear. Why not just appreciate the talent that fans of the show not only possess but are so free in giving their time to promote it? I'm not a cuddly toy man myself but I am both an artist and a writer. I encountered similar problems with Universal Studios over their JAWS franchise some years ago. Doctor Who is most probably the BBC's greatest asset. You know the show is a success. We know the show is a success. Lighten up a little and allow the folks who provide your source of income to indulge in a little unlicensed creativity of their own.

  19. Des Burkinshaw:
    May 15, 2008 at 10:00 AM

    It's a heavy handed approach, as when someone gets threatened with bailiffs over a £15 bill.
    There are inconsistencies in the BBC approach to issues like this.
    Currently, for example, the BBC is working towards making all of its archive available digitally online. Why? Because it is publicly funded and the public has a right to view it. We fund it through the TV license therefore it belongs to us. You could argue that therefore we "the license fee paying public" also own the copyright on the characters.
    If the BBC disagrees then it needs to be even more hot on this.
    Say a child draws Dr Who on their exercise book and publishes that picture on their blog...what's the difference?
    All publicity is good publicity and the fact that someone came up with a pattern for a character is great. The number of people who want a hand knitted Oood character from Dr Who to scare their babies with is sure only very small?

    When I was a journalist on the Hackney Gazette many years ago, I remember covering a story about the Queen Elizabeth Children's hospital. Someone from Disney saw in a photo that someone had painted Disney characters on the walls of one of the wards. They sent a legal letter insisting they be taken down. And they were.
    Well done the BBC for acting in the same spirit.

    Dr Who only lives through its fans and the crazy things they do to live out that fantasy. Saying they can only do this if the BBC gets a percentage is Orwellian, naive and a bit dumb to be honest. It's too small scale to worry about.

    Perhaps you now might want to get down to some of the markets around the UK where you can get mass produced Chinese imported knock offs which really are affecting BBC income.

    I have friends at BBC Worldwide, but seriously, don't waste valuable staff time on sorting out issues that affect 15 people.

  20. Web Services » BarCampNorthEast: Day 1:
    May 30, 2008 at 12:57 PM

    [...] voting trials to report on problems (and there were problems!) and pushing the recent story about Doctor Who knitting patterns. All very interesting [...]

  21. BBC Goes after Dr. Who knitting pattern maker « The random musings of a 1973 Original:
    May 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

    [...] be catching attention if Neil Gaiman would blog about the foolishness that the BBC is up to now. They are going after a knitter who created some Dr. Who patterns and was not selling them. Some fool put them up on Ebay as sales and now the Beeb has gone after [...]

  22. Billy Hunt:
    May 15, 2008 at 11:51 PM

    Ooh! Ood dolls! Can I get one off of eBay?

  23. Kelvyn Gardner:
    May 18, 2008 at 09:34 AM

    Whilst I think that the BBC's initial response could have been more tactfully done, they really did not have any choice. Speaking as head of the UK branch of the licensing industry's trade association, there are both commercial and quality concerns about this activity. Commercially, the BBC may have granted rights to third parties which these products infringe upon: not taking action could leave the BBC itself open to legal claims. There is also the well-justified desire to stop on line sales of unauthorised goods made using these patterns. Most importantly in my view, licensing is often naively reported in the press as being responsible for 'tacky merchandise'. It is, in fact, the very process of permission/approval that is at the heart of licensing that prevents poor quality goods from going on sale. If goods are allowed to be made and sold without the BBC's inspection and approval, we could, indeed, see the public parting with hard-earned money for poor quality and even unsafe items.

    Now that this is in the hands of the BBC's licensing department, I'm sure that a sensible conclusion will be reached.

  24. sylrayj:
    May 14, 2008 at 10:20 PM

    I remember 23 years ago, knitting a 'Dr. Who' scarf for a friend. The pattern was in a magazine, if I remember right, and specified colours, numbers of rows for that colour, etc. There were lots and lots of patterns for extremely long scarves around at the time, and I did not hear of anyone being sued then for publishing the patterns.

    I am grateful that I haven't supported the BBC with their current version of the show, either in watching it or observing the ads which help pay for it. I feel disgusted that these patterns specifically were targeted, after such a decades-old precedent!

  25. james:
    May 14, 2008 at 05:11 PM

    Is this the same BBC that I had to take to court to get money from after they copied dozens of drawings off my website and used them as news graphics? Is this the same BBC that then tried to claim they were a non-commercial organisation so they could do what they liked as the material they had pinched I license under the creative commons non commercial use license but settled just before court after four months of legal squirming and corporate BS?

    The BBC totally stinks. If people are commercially infringing the copyright you go after *them* and damages are set according to the harm done. The BBC could easily license their stuff under the correct creative commons license and that way people would be able to use it and they could still enforce their trademark.

  26. Dr. Who Pattern Debacle - Whose Property is Intellectual? « I am addicted:
    May 15, 2008 at 06:37 PM

    [...] Ravelry, Science Fiction If you haven’t heard anything about this, there’s been argument over some knitting patterns developed by a Dr. Who fan. In a nutshell, the fan created doll patterns of certain creatures from [...]

  27. Knitting in the News: A harlot, some men, and a big bully | Knitting Club:
    May 15, 2008 at 09:10 AM

    [...] and either go after all knitters who have posted Who-related designs or leave them all alone, and many others say the BBC is overreacting, especially since part of its charter says it is supposed to [...]

  28. Big news week • Blogcoven:
    May 15, 2008 at 10:24 PM

    [...] has also been quite a stir in my two primary extracurricular activities (knitting and Doctor Who — gaming, sadly, has [...]

  29. Alexander Peter Kowalski:
    May 14, 2008 at 05:16 PM

    They tried to do that to myself, or rather IMPLIED it, in regards to this 100% FREE ScreenSaver I had created, here:


    APK Doctor Who ScreenSaver 2008++ version 1.0:


    (It's multithreaded, single .scr monolithic executable that is self-protected vs. virus infection even, + internally "self-contains" the series intro. to playback for users, from RAM, not disk, for the best in efficiency)

    Initially, I even wrote them about it + OFFERED IT TO THEM TO PUT ON THEIR BBC SITE FOR THE SHOW.

    (& they asked me to send it their way on CD @ first, after I extolled its virtues)...

    After that?

    They said I was "in breach of copyright" & honestly?

    I was astounded!

    I am not out to "make a profit" by its creation, & was out to only give it away free, to other Doctor Who fans!

    (Will wonders NEVER cease!)


  30. Hutchie:
    May 14, 2008 at 04:05 PM

    My own opinion is that the BBC would be correct to target Ebay sellers and anyone attempting to make a profit from their intellectual property, as is their right. Unfortunately rather than do this actively, they have chosen the easy option of attacking a person whose only 'crime' is she has the imagination and flare to design knitted patterns and make them available not for profit, based on Dr Who characters.

    What the BBC is doing is almost analogous to the farcical notion that all manufacturers of DVD recorders, computers, etc should be told to stop producing them. After all those devices can and are used to record and distribute copyrighted material. In fact what happens, correctly, is that people who misuse these devices for their own profit get targeted.

    The history behind this case is that the BBC were more than likely informed about the knitting pattern by a disgruntled Ebay seller who was reported to Ebay by the knitting designer for selling her pattern. She has never sold this pattern and was giving away for FREE to fellow knitters.

    Oh and a note about parody Josh. Perhaps seeing as the reported issue was about publishing a design (unless the BBC effects department used knitted patterns) BASED on an image on Dr Who that was published (NOT SOLD FOR PROFIT) on a website I suggest that you ought to read the initial story a little more carefully before subjecting us to your 'informed' comment.


  31. Joss:
    May 14, 2008 at 03:18 PM

    Just went to the link in #30 about copyright on sound recordings.

    I am very confused about this as currently copyright on music publishing in the UK (and most of the rest of the world) is 70 years from the composer's death.

    At the moment if the sound recording is over 50 years old, you still cannot use it without paying royalties because the publishing covers it till 70 years after the composers death - which may be a long way off!

    So, changing the law will make no difference to anyone except the artists on the record who would still get their cut of the royalties, rather than it just going into the distributors pocket.

    The work would still be protected from illegal copying etc by the publishing rights.

  32. Ugly American:
    May 11, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    The BBC is funded by UK tax payers.

    All 'their' stuff ultimately belongs to UK taxpayers.

  33. Dr. William Bennett:
    May 11, 2008 at 10:28 PM

    Because the BBC is publically funded, all of their intellectual property, ethically, belongs to the public. The change that needs to happen is that copyrights for all BBC produced material needs to be reversed and made public domain. To do otherwise is theft.

    On the issue of knitting patterns, if this was a for-profit private company that paid for a TV show, book, or other creation with private funds, then they are entitled to trademark protection IF they took out a trademark in the appropriate category, namely knitted products. That is not the case here, or in any commercial case I have seen. For example, if you wish to sell knitted products that say "Google", google could not stop you unless they had trademarked that specific product category.

  34. Joss:
    May 14, 2008 at 03:03 PM

    I am bemused by this. It is being treated as if their is some sort of confusion - there isn't.

    Here we go - dead simple copyright stuff:

    If you write a book and put someone else's work in it (drawing, words, design, music) you have to have their permission and probably pay them some dosh - fair enough since they are contributing to your book and its popularity and so on. And they may or may not want to be associated with you, so the law gives them the right to refuse you the right to use their work.

    It is like deciding you want to write a book about commuting to work in a Ford motor car, and stealing one from a forecourt for research.

    A website is an electronic publication - same rules apply. It is as simple as that.

    Just because someone is an amateur or hobbyist doesn't mean they suddenly get to nick whatever they like.

    The lady probably did this innocently, but to be honest, it does not take a legal expert to work out that if you use something that belongs to someone else, you probably need to ask - out of courtesy, if nothing else. Just as in the same way that the Open Rights Group credited the theme designer of this site.

    Just to clear up the copyright issue of the Tardis - the BBC own the rights to the name and in 1996 regitered the actual tardis box as a trademark. The Metropolitan police objected as a matter of course, but since neither they nor anyone else had ever registered the design (there have been rather a lot of designs) the trademark was granted. This is normal practice for anyone who does not want their hard work and investment stolen.

    Oh, and a note about parody. Taking a design, copying it and then selling it for profit does not count as parody - it counts as theft.

  35. Mike:
    May 14, 2008 at 02:59 AM

    There's no fascist like a liberal fascist, backed by a Labour junta.

  36. Rose Brut:
    May 14, 2008 at 12:43 PM

    They're so cute the Beeb would be bonkers not to work with Mazz who is clearly a genius.

  37. novachild:
    May 14, 2008 at 02:10 PM

    So beeb, why not just go after those 'exploiting' the patterns for profit, and leave Mazzmatazz out of it? He isn't responsible for the actions of others. I must say, after 1.5 mediocre seasons of Doctor Who and a BEEB that is acting more and more like Microsoft every day, my anglophilic tendencies are beginning to fade. Shame on you, BBC.

  38. Rupert Murdoch stole my adipose « audreym’s occasional blog:
    May 14, 2008 at 02:36 PM

    [...] it down. Since when there has been a wave of Whovian Knitter Activism, the Open Rights Group has taken up the issue, much publicity has been generated and the story has made the national [...]

  39. Chris:
    May 14, 2008 at 12:17 PM

    This is actually quite funny, especially when viewed in the light of the Blue Peter Tracy Island. I don't remember the BBC being so concerned about Intellectual Property rights when they broadcast (on TV and via factsheet) how rip off the Soundtech Tracy Island design on Blue Peter in the 90's!

  40. BBC Acorn:
    May 11, 2008 at 09:46 PM

    Hubs of BBC removes Doctor Who fan’s knitting patterns from the Web...

    hubs about BBC Acorn to This week, Andres Guadamuz, who sits on the list, has published details of a very interesting dispute between the BBC and a knitting enthusiast and Doctor Who fan who goes by the screen name of Mazzmatazz. Mazz has been posting ...

  41. Confused:
    May 12, 2008 at 10:59 AM

    Does the "legitimate work of parody" clause apply in the UK?

  42. Martin Belam:
    May 12, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    >> Oh and police phone boxes are fair game as well. Who does hold the copyright on those?

    Actually the BBC does, and I believe even sucessfully defended their copyright on the box design against the police!

  43. Philip Fleming, Head of Communications, Home Entertainment, BBC Worldwide:
    May 14, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    We are not heavy-handed when it comes to fans creating their own products out of a love for the show, providing it's on a small scale and not for profit. In the instance of the knitting patterns created by Mazzmatazz, they were posted on a website and ended up being exploited for profit by people who did not have permission to use the Doctor Who trademark. This 'profit' would not have been returned to the BBC whereas BBC Worldwide's profits are. We did not threaten Mazzmatazz with legal action or prosecution as has been suggested in some media reports today. We sent an email informing the webmaster that they did not have permission to use the Doctor Who trademark and asked them to remove the patterns from their site - which they did. We also told Mazzmataz that we would pass on her ideas/designs to our Licensing team where there is always the possibility that we might work together with her in the future.

  44. Andres:
    May 09, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Arsenal v Reed has bearing on the trade mark issue, but not the copyright case.

  45. Billy:
    May 09, 2008 at 12:05 PM

    The creature in the picture is clearly Cthulhu. If that's a Dr. Who trademark, Lovecraft's ghost should sue the Beeb.

  46. Ablestmage:
    May 09, 2008 at 01:12 PM

    All Mazz has to do is repost the patterns with each getting funny nicknames, like "Cthulhu Enjoys Juicebox" or whatnot. The letter only advised Mazz remove specifically the trademark references, not the material of Mazz's own creation.

  47. Science Monkey » Blog Archive » copyfighting knittr:
    May 09, 2008 at 02:47 PM

    [...] Boing Boing comes word of the BBC demanding that a knitter remove Doctor Who-inspired patterns from the web. Patterns that were made available for free, mind you. Sheesh. I had better go grab [...]

  48. Sam Pablo Kuper:
    May 08, 2008 at 01:05 PM

    The case of Arsenal v Reed surely has a bearing on this.

  49. Not something I’m loving currently « knitters = angry mob:
    May 09, 2008 at 02:36 PM

    [...] BBC removes Doctor Who fan’s knitting patterns from the Web [...]

  50. Dynamo_ace:
    May 08, 2008 at 03:11 PM

    I wonder if the BBC really is deciding to join the EBs these days, last week they aired free EB propaganda on local news. Is this what the tax payer's money is going towards? The EB's plans?

    Indeed Fandom and other transformaitve works need to be part of copyright.

  51. JEB:
    May 09, 2008 at 10:00 PM

    This is the same creative thinking that Paramount used to kill off it's cash cow (Star Trek. BBC should take a look and learn from their mistake.

  52. Kyle:
    May 09, 2008 at 07:55 PM

    The BBC is being RIDICULOUS about this. Considering that all art is just ripped off from art that came before it: current copyright laws are incredibly draconian. Just because they have their lawyers have the right to go after Mazz, doesn't make it right.

  53. becki:
    May 09, 2008 at 05:35 PM

    Billy--that's an alien from Doctor Who called the Ood. Sure does look like Cthulhu, though!

  54. dragonknitter:
    May 12, 2008 at 02:30 AM

    so, then, JK Rowling could have sued the woman who wrote a book of knitting patterns based on her books? The estate of JRR Tolkien could have sued Spin Off magazine for copyright infringement when they ran a contest for Lord of the Rings Garb done in handspun yarns?

    Please. Dr. Who is such a part of popular culture that the BBC has no right to do such a thing. I may never watch Dr. Who again, sigh.

  55. Porkster:
    May 12, 2008 at 10:54 AM

    Doesn't copyright run out after a few years. Just create charactures from the early series. Daleks, Cybermen, yeti, etc.

    Oh and police phone boxes are fair game as well. Who does hold the copyright on those?

  56. Cthulhu enjoys juicebox : Megan Powell . Net:
    May 09, 2008 at 10:51 PM

    [...] Boing Boing reading, as opposed to Ravelry: the Beeb has copyright/trademark issues with knitting patterns. It actually sounds like there might be some interesting facets, even for non-lawyers, and when I [...]

  57. jamie:
    May 09, 2008 at 10:02 PM

    Oh BBC... Why must you INSIST on alienating your fan base while simultaneously crapping on free advertisement?

  58. Leon:
    May 09, 2008 at 10:53 PM

    Jamie, you didn't just say "alienated", did you?

    Yes, I too miss the days before the lawyers ran the beeb ...

  59. Tech Scoop - Hot Technology Gossip » BBC Upset That Fans Are Knitting Dr. Who Characters:
    May 10, 2008 at 04:34 AM

    [...] uploading someone else's patterns -- but he had created his own. The BBC, however, flipped out and told him to remove all such knitting patterns as they infringed on the BBC's copyrights and trademar.... This seems like yet another case of overly aggressive enforcement of intellectual property rights [...]

  60. anon:
    May 10, 2008 at 01:34 AM

    I'm not sure about trademark law in the UK, but if it's anything like the US, anyone holding a trademark name must protect it or risk loosing it. This means notifying anyone infringing on use for commercial purposes, whether it be a big corp, or someone's grandma.

    As bullying as it may seem, it's normal procedure and a requirement of someone owning a trademark to protect it, and notify those using it without permission. I believe this is likely true, regardless of the owner being public, private or even non-profit.

    I'm guessing what's at issue is most likely not the knitting itself or its "likeness", but more likely the use of the "DR WHO" brand name, which is very likely trademarked.

    It would have been nicer, I suppose, if the BBC kindly offered to 'license', or allow the knitting artist to use the name at some nominal fee, so that their legal requirement to protect the tradename is preserved, while still allowing such folks to 'freely' make derivative works.

    However typically legal entities go straight for the standard 'take down' letter.. probably not the only recourse, but certainly the 'standard' one.

  61. lyndsey-jane:
    May 10, 2008 at 11:02 AM

    being a knitter I am aware of the patterns in question, and if i remember correctly they were free and not given away for money, and although this has no
    standing with the copyright issue, it just shows to me that the designer was purely showing a love for the show and wanted to share with those of us not able/clever enough to come with patterns on our own. Such a shame!

  62. BBC Upset That Fans Are Knitting Dr. Who Characters:
    May 10, 2008 at 04:34 AM

    [...] uploading someone else's patterns -- but he had created his own. The BBC, however, flipped out and told him to remove all such knitting patterns as they infringed on the BBC's copyrights and trademar.... This seems like yet another case of overly aggressive enforcement of intellectual property rights [...]

  63. Becky:
    May 13, 2008 at 06:20 PM

    @Porkster (#25) Actually, copyright lasts for a very long time, so it's unlikely that any of the Dr Who characters are out of copyright. And European legislators are trying to make copyright even longer. We're campaigning against the extension of copyright term in Europe. For more information, visit:

  64. Brad Howard:
    May 13, 2008 at 05:44 PM

    This is an example of oppression by so-called intellectual property. It's absurd. The knitter in question should continue to post patterns online despite what the BBC says. Post it on non-UK sites, cryptome, wikileaks, etc.

  65. Daleks are not soft and fuzzy the BBC goes mad — TechWag:
    May 10, 2008 at 02:41 PM

    [...] steps in the open rights group, then on BoingBoing which is going to get a lot of [...]

  66. Becky:
    May 13, 2008 at 06:17 PM

    @Confused (#26) No it doesn't, but the UK Intellectual Property Office recently asked UK citizens if they would like this to be changed. We responded - you can read our response here:

  67. Tomorrow Museum » Archive » Dr Who Fan Gets a BBC Nastygram:
    May 10, 2008 at 09:35 PM

    [...] an aside titled 'Dr Who Fan Gets a BBC Nastygram' dated 5/10/08 Mazzmatazz knits Dr Who crafts, but took the patterns offline after the BBC sent this message: “We note that you are supplying DR WHO items, and using trade [...]

  68. o8ty:
    Jul 07, 2010 at 08:59 AM

    I run and would be interested in comments regarding possible IP infringement by BBC with respect to their showing a combination of red-capped mushrooms with greek letters and a roofed structure in the Dr Who Pandorica series.

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