Tuesday, 13 May 2008

BBC Blocks Fan's Knit Patterns

News.com.au has reported that the BBC has issued a copyright infringement notice to a fan who has created knitting patterns of Doctor Who characters (including an Ood, Cassandra, the Face of Boe and two others) and shared them - for free - on the internet.

The person behind the Mazzmatazz website stated: "The patterns I created, inspired by Doctor Who, were never for sale - they were shared under Creative Commons licenses, to prevent resale, so that other fans could enjoy and share the fun too."

Mazmatazz's case has also been picked up by the Open Rights Group, an online civil liberties organisation. A statement on the ORG website said the BBC should play a role in "stimulating the creative economy" by allowing fans to alter its content in a non-commercial context. "The approach the BBC have taken with Mazz’s knitting patterns demonstrate a distinct lack of flexibility," the organisation said. "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."

Various bloggers have expressed disagreement that the infringement notice is in any way valid, as the knitting patterns are not "direct representations of their [the BBC's] characters", and that these patterns should rightly fall into the category of fan art.

"They are misplacing their energies pursuing a fan who has done nothing more than to display their love to the show by making a highly original design," said technology law blogger Andres Guadamuz