BBC to fans: Keep your art to yourselves

I’m one who is of the opinion that fan art—projects created by fans inspired by their favorite artists—generally helps an enterprise. And while some of it, certainly, trespasses on an original artist’s creative property, it’s hard to see the argument behind the BBC’s recent decision to quash knitting patterns posted on the internet by a Doctor Who fan:

A CRAFT enthusiast who posted knitting patterns inspired by Doctor Who characters on the internet has been forced to take them down after a copyright infringement notice from the BBC.

In a statement posted on their website, science fiction and knitting fan Mazzmatazz said they were forced to remove five designs after a notice from the BBC.

“Thanks to the BBC, I am no longer allowed to distribute any Doctor Who patterns, even for free (not that I was charging anyway). I apologise to any fans who are disappointed by this,” they said.

“If you want to see the patterns back up, I suggest you petition the BBC to relent.”

The offending knitting patterns showed how to create small toys resembling Doctor Who monsters such as the Ood and Adipose.

“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,” Mazzmatazz said.

The infringement notice has angered bloggers who claim the BBC is overreacting to fan art, and that the patterns are not a direct representation of their characters.,25197,23692499-29677,00.htmlThe Open Rights Group has taken up the case, asserting in a statement that “The approach the BBC have taken with Mazz’s knitting patterns demonstrate a distinct lack of flexibility.”

While many of us might worry about the state of mind of a fan who knits poppets of a favorite character, the Beeb is apparently worried that the crude dolls will interfere with their own commercial exploitation of Doctor Who‘s popularity.

In the meantime, patterns for creating a replica of the famous scarf worn by Doctor Who remain online, the site owner speculated last month that the BBC crackdown against fan art might soon reach his site:

As you may or may not have heard, the mighty BBC is cracking down on fan-based merchandise and has just pulled all eBay auctions for Doctor Who Scarves. Now, while this site is just for information purposes and it does not make any money, it is possible they might contact me and demand I pull my patterns down, or possibly even the whole site. (although I doubt the latter.) I hope this is not the case, but if I were you I would grab the patterns while you still can, just in case. I’ll keep you all posted as to the developments. My condolences go out to those who will be affected financially because of these rather selfish actions by the BBC. Thanks.

And while I would not challenge the Beeb’s right to quash sales of unlicensed, fan-based merchandise, one option for the unlicensed is to simply jack the price a bit and hawk a few out of the boot at rock concerts.

Best wishes, of course, to inspired fans everywhere.

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