Doctor Who Faces Legal Threat From Son of Tardis Creator

Epic_Bubble

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A few things here people.

Firstly Copyright only reverts back to the decease's family 25 years after the original copy rights holders death. So its not 35 years of copy right infringement.

"informal permission" doesn't count. Copyrights are only transferable in writing.

"The BBC said it's looking into the matter but also noted that it registered its own copyright in the 1980s and had received no complaints prior to this one"

Yeah .... a Copyright doesn't need to be registers it merely has to be reduced to material form. Clearly Tony Coburn when he wrote the first script got the copy right and is fully provable.


If I was a lawyer I would say the Son has a good chance however he needs to note that they only infringed copyright for 2002-2013.

Also I should point out that in 2038 Doctor who... becomes public domain.
 

dantoddd

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Entitled said:
dantoddd said:
Copyright are property which belonged to the creator and passed one to his/her successors.
No, copyrights are a government-granted monopoly over the market of a piece of information, given to specific artists with the intent of incentivizing creative industries to a certain extent.

That the copyright lobby likes to refer to said monopolistic regulations as an "intellectual property", is just an informal, unprofessional figure of speech, an analogy, and has no more legal relevance to property ownership laws, than the phrase "job hunting" has to hunting regulations or "character assassination" has to laws against assassinations.
semantics! they're fundamentally the same thing. IP are simply intangible assets.
 

dantoddd

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Eggsnham said:
Wow, what a dick...

Rule number one of blatantly trying to profit off of your parents' work: At least try to look like you give a shit about the legacy behind it.
what's the point in being disingenuous?
 

Eggsnham

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dantoddd said:
Eggsnham said:
Wow, what a dick...

Rule number one of blatantly trying to profit off of your parents' work: At least try to look like you give a shit about the legacy behind it.
what's the point in being disingenuous?
I'm just saying, if you're trying to make a quick buck off of work that is only yours through inheritance, you would be better off lying through your teeth.

I don't give a shit about how honest or dishonest he is, because in the end, the chances of him actually succeeding in this are slim to none. I'm just saying I think he's a prick and pointing out that he would have a (marginally) better chance of success if he at least pretended to sympathize with the people he's currently insulting.
 

Kyogissun

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Jan 12, 2010
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Andy Chalk said:
"It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favorite children's program," Coburn said.
Oh dude, no. Just... Just no. I'm not even a fan and I can tell that was completely unnecessary. You're either giving a backhanded compliment or showing how disconnected you really are from the show.

Just stop dude, you're not going to win any support other than being a patent/trademark/copyright troll like the EDGE guy. It'd be ONE thing if you were asking for your dad to be credited in the episode or some shit but... This is NOT going to end well for you if you're in it for the money.
 

Innegativeion

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Feb 18, 2011
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The Lunatic said:
While your ideals are very "heartwarming", it's completely unrealistic and nobody would actually think like that.
Well I can certainly tell from personal experience that I am 'nobody', and all the rest of the people in this thread calling the kid an entitled wad are clearly nobody as well.

Your assertion is just as anecdotal as mine, Mr. High Ground.


Besides, as has been pointed out, the show was well popular enough that if the father had any intent of passing TARDIS royalties to his son he would've done something about it, or within the next thirty years his wife would have

(whom I am 90% sure knows the man and his wishes better than you do)

Clearly neither parent was interested in their child getting royalties from Doctor Who.
 

The Lunatic

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Innegativeion said:
The Lunatic said:
While your ideals are very "heartwarming", it's completely unrealistic and nobody would actually think like that.
Well I can certainly tell from personal experience that I am 'nobody', and all the rest of the people in this thread calling the kid an entitled wad are clearly nobody as well.

Your assertion is just as anecdotal as mine, Mr. High Ground.


Besides, as has been pointed out, the show was well popular enough that if the father had any intent of passing TARDIS royalties to his son he would've done something about it, or within the next thirty years his wife would have

(whom I am 90% sure knows the man and his wishes better than you do)

Clearly neither parent was interested in their child getting royalties from Doctor Who.
Please tell me of the that one time your child was capable of obtaining potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars and you instead declined because some people think you think they didn't earn it.

Until you actually do it, you're just bullshitting.

Can't really speak for the wife, she had a lot of children, some of them died, I can imagine her duties were likely elsewhere, either way, we don't know this person, so, to assume they're fine with their child not getting hundreds of thousands of dollars is pretty dumb.

Probably didn't realise it.

Or accepted it, or didn't want anything to do with it.

Probably why the guy's mother passed the ownership on to him, she didn't want anything to do with it, he did.

Who knows.

Either way, you're an idiot to turn down giving a truckload of money to your child based upon the presumed interests of a guy who died before it became the massive multinational thing it is now.

It strikes me as very odd that people so fond of the series are so unwilling to see the creators of some it's most iconic things given any form of payment.

Like, seriously, this guy got nothing. He created something which millions of people are aware of, and got basically FA for it.
 

Nielas

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Epic_Bubble said:
A few things here people.

Also I should point out that in 2038 Doctor who... becomes public domain.
That only applies to the early episodes. It would take another 50 years before all of current Doctor Who was public domain.
 

Entitled

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dantoddd said:
Entitled said:
dantoddd said:
Copyright are property which belonged to the creator and passed one to his/her successors.
No, copyrights are a government-granted monopoly over the market of a piece of information, given to specific artists with the intent of incentivizing creative industries to a certain extent.

That the copyright lobby likes to refer to said monopolistic regulations as an "intellectual property", is just an informal, unprofessional figure of speech, an analogy, and has no more legal relevance to property ownership laws, than the phrase "job hunting" has to hunting regulations or "character assassination" has to laws against assassinations.
semantics! they're fundamentally the same thing. IP are simply intangible assets.
I'm not sure if you are now arguing with me, in which case you would be better off making some actual point about my own description of IP as a government-granted monopoly being wrong, or you are acknowledging it, in which case I don't see why you keep insisting in the same sentence that they are "fundamentally the same thing".

Yes, of course a property and a copyright monopoly can both be used as intangible assets that financially benefit you. So can be having a driver's license, or being the president of France, or being married.

That doesn't explain why these are all fundamentally the same as ownership, let alone why they should all have the same logic of bequeathing them apply.
 

Therumancer

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Well, I hate to say it, but he's right, and if there is any justice in the UK, then he is going to win. All references about "The Land Of Lawsuits" aside, this isn't simply because I'm sue crazy as an American, but because this is a legitimate issue (unlike many cases in the US where there isn't one, at least to an outside observer).

At the end of the day the bottom line is that his father was awarded "rights" which eventually transferred to him. This means he has some documentation as to the claim, and these rights have been officially tracked through their transfer. This means an actual, acknowledged IP exists here, and has been transferred.

Now, whether the rights holder chose to be assertive before now is more or less irrelevant, especially if some kind of gentleman's agreement was apparently in play with the previous generation of the family. Legally speaking, the TARDIS belongs to this guy now, and he's a part owner of the "Doctor Who" IP as a result. Indeed it could be argued that the Doctor Who rights holders might be guilty of fraud if they filed a copyright knowing that someone else had documented rights to this particular aspect of the mythology.

To put things into perspective, it's sort of like a case in comics where a specific creator owns a character even if he doesn't own the rest of a publisher's continuity. If he leaves, he can take his work with him. Nowadays you see this happening less often due to the legal battles that have taken place in the past, publishers watch their back more, but if you listen to some of the stuff in Moviebob's "Comics Are Weird" segements of "The Big Picture" which have involved the storied past of characters like "Marvelman" (or Miracleman if you prefer), and explained the whole mess of issues that came up when a creator wanted to use his "Angela" character in Marvel, and what that meant behind the scenes... you can sort of see where this is going.

Right now since these rights apparently transferred legally after the 1980 copyright, they still existed, and were acknowledged as being valid.

This case is pretty much the rights holder of a character (in this case a ship) demanding the publisher pay royalties on continued use of that character. The case for retroactive payment also kind of stands up, as it wouldn't be the first time someone realized that they had rights to something from an estate that someone else was using without realizing they did not have the rights to do so. Albiet in this case it's intentional and premeditated, as opposed to something someone discovered after the fact.

Honestly I expect this will probably be resolved quietly, whomever holds Doctor Who's primary copyright will probably realized they "oopsed" and hand the guy a few million pounds to buy the rights outright so they can own them free and clear. Largely because even if they go to court and win, it will put a shadow over the entire thing, legally, if not in the minds of the fans. Later on if another rights question come up, even a victory here can be used to paint them as rather shady.

That said, at least it's not as bad as some IPs which will likely never return because it's nearly impossible after the fact to determine who exactly owns what. In apparently the entire run of Doctor Who, it's actually pretty good that this is the only suit of it's kind (or at least I think it is) given the sheer number of writers, actors, directors, and producers over the many, many years of it's run.
 

Therumancer

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008Zulu said:
Wow, what a whiny little ***** this kid is.

Unless the original creator had it written in his contract that he retains all copyright over his work, he has no leg to stand on.
The thing is he apparently does, since it mentions the rights being transferred quite clearly. There is apparently something tangible which proves this creation which was legally in the hands of the father, the widow, and now the son. Something which apparently was still able to be transferred in a legal sense (still existing) despite the 1980 copyright claim.

What your looking at here is a situation like a comic company using a character created by a departed writer, or written by so many people they aren't sure who created it originally, but figure the company has the rights, only to find that once the character goes through a resurgence of popularity they never had all of the rights, and the current rights owner wants a piece of the pie. MovieBob goes on about stuff like this when he talks about comics.

To be honest, I'm kind of cheering for the guy. I like Doctor Who enough I suppose even if I'm not the biggest fan, and really I don't think it's in any danger from this. I figure the end result is going to be them deciding to buy the rights from the guy and put an end to it. I'll also be blunt in saying that if the kid's father was that instrumental in helping get the show going, he has a right to be miffed that he didn't get a mention.

I'm a little surprised to see so much negativity under the circumstances, I could understand it more if the show was in some kind of danger, but it's really not.

Of course I'm working under what's written here where it pretty much says the rights exist and have been legally transferred, and the guy isn't a troll making stuff up. I don't think it's especially frivolous, if all of this is true, the rights holder deserves a cut of the action.
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Therumancer said:
The thing is he apparently does, since it mentions the rights being transferred quite clearly. There is apparently something tangible which proves this creation which was legally in the hands of the father, the widow, and now the son. Something which apparently was still able to be transferred in a legal sense (still existing) despite the 1980 copyright claim.
Except in the case of comic book lawsuits, the publisher has been deemed the rights holder, not the creator.
 

Therumancer

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008Zulu said:
Therumancer said:
The thing is he apparently does, since it mentions the rights being transferred quite clearly. There is apparently something tangible which proves this creation which was legally in the hands of the father, the widow, and now the son. Something which apparently was still able to be transferred in a legal sense (still existing) despite the 1980 copyright claim.
Except in the case of comic book lawsuits, the publisher has been deemed the rights holder, not the creator.
Depends entirely on the situation, and the era in which the characters were created, it wasn't always that straightforward, and publishers have been mostly covering themselves that way to try and prevent some of the situations they had previously found themselves in.

As Moviebob covered not too long ago there was a big deal a while ago about the character "Angela" showing up in Marvel despite being part of the Image universe via the Spawn titles and thus allegedly under the control of Todd Macfarlane. The thing is that Image specifically set itself up to get away from the then totalitarian policies of the comics industry, with the rights to the various characters belonging to their creators. There have been a lot of fights over it, and basically it can be argued that Todd Macfarlane would up more or less stealing the work of other people with some legal sleight of hand (and a few buy outs), however he wound up not controlling that character, making it's appearance in another company's comics a giant "FU".

Another one easily verified (and it was again covered by Bob, who I'm using because it can be more or less verified on this sight) is the whole messed up history of the rights and ownership of the character "Marvelman" or "Miracle Man" if you prefer, which I mentioned earlier.

I'm not saying your entirely wrong, indeed your right in most cases nowadays, but comics came to mind as the type of suit largely because this goes back to something that happened during the 1960s with a TV show which nobody knew was going to turn into a decades long juggernaut. Remember this is the guy who created the Tardis, one of the central aspects of the show, not someone who jumped in recently, or even several doctors in when it had a bit of inertia behind it. I very much doubt anyone thought to ensure they controlled all the rights to everything at that point, and even if the father wasn't pushing for it, apparently he DID have his part of the creation credited to him legally.

In theory a company like Marvel or DC would mostly run into trouble if they ran into something that was really old. Things created by people while under contract to them to create things, well that's different, and how the business mostly works today, as opposed to someone who comes in with an idea ahead of time and might have gotten it published without any real concern over potential later legal ramifications. It of course becomes more complicated as well if you have a character that has been printed under a number of different publishers, in such a case who owns the rights can become a very good question depending on the circumstances of the transfer.

If the guy claimed he has the rights to all of Doctor Who, I might have a problem with that, but claiming one aspect of it, albeit a central one? I can actually see that.
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Therumancer said:
If the guy claimed he has the rights to all of Doctor Who, I might have a problem with that, but claiming one aspect of it, albeit a central one? I can actually see that.
The exterior design has changed multiple times over the duration of the series. BBC could argue that his "copyright" would only extend to the exterior his father came up with, since the Police Box was originally from a government source he can't claim all iterations without dragging the government in to the suit. And if the design changed while his father were still alive, then no pay day.
 

Therumancer

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008Zulu said:
Therumancer said:
If the guy claimed he has the rights to all of Doctor Who, I might have a problem with that, but claiming one aspect of it, albeit a central one? I can actually see that.
The exterior design has changed multiple times over the duration of the series. BBC could argue that his "copyright" would only extend to the exterior his father came up with, since the Police Box was originally from a government source he can't claim all iterations without dragging the government in to the suit. And if the design changed while his father were still alive, then no pay day.
I don't think so since this is based around an idea, the whole concept for the machine, the acronym, from the way it sounds, as opposed to a specific image or piece of artwork. The argument seems to be that this is about the TARDIS concept, with this input being from the earliest days of the show. On a lot of levels the claim being made is that "Daddy" was basically a co-creator of the show and it's central mythology. After all if you think about it if they stop using the TARDIS and can't even reference it anymore, the entire thing pretty much falls apart, The Doctor's machine is almost as important to the set up and how things work as he is.

That said, one of the things that makes the show popular is that the TARDIS is actually fairly clever, the way it works, how it's bigger on the inside than the outside, etc... and it's been able to justify a lot of the needs of low budget science fiction for decades, and still works well as a plot device and central element in setting up storylines and plot points now that Doctor Who actually has a decent budget.

In short this guy isn't wrong, and he also knows he has them more or less by the nuts if the system works the way it's supposed to. After all his alternative "Don't use the TARDIS anymore" isn't really practical at this point. At the end of the day though as I said, I imagine he's angling for a payoff, and that will probably happen, and really if this story is as true as this article seems to imply (and he has the rights), I can't see why anyone would want to begrudge him the dues and compensation, it's not like this seems to be something he's pulling out of his arse. The only thing I could see going wrong here is if he decides to say demand a percentage of any further Doctor Who shows, products, etc... produced, that kind of thing might be "smart" but would probably force things into a legal battle. If he simply says "gotcha" and signs over the rights for a few million pounds and some acknowledgement of his father's contributions (say putting "TARDIS concept by..." into the credits of new episodes and DVD re-releases) it will be little more than a footnote in the long run.

See, understand one of the reasons why I'm taking the unpopular side is because I do believe in IPs and Copyrights to an extent, especially as it applies to creators and their families. I can't go after China's "robber economy" for stealing all the things they do through not acknoleging such things if I wasn't going to approve of someone's rights
in this case.

If I thought the guy was going to be a butthead and do something that would ruin Doctor Who forever for everyone I might think differently, likewise I'm working under the assumption that he has these rights which have been being tracked, and transferred all this time (which seems to be the case). I might be wrong, but I don't get that vibe from it, the guy isn't a fan of the material, but pretty much wants a payday based on the rights he now owns, and he's related to the original creator... fair enough IMO.
 

chozo_hybrid

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Limos said:
"I would have sued you for infringing on my copyright earlier but I didn't have the copyright."

So what legal grounds do you have for this then? You don't actually have the copyright seeing as they got that thirty years ago. You just sort of assumed you would have it by virtue of your family, even though they probably waved goodbye to any claim they had on it the aforementioned 30 years ago.
Only at the height of the shows popularity does this come up, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. Trying to be opportunistic when he has no legal rights on the matter anyway.
 

Innegativeion

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The Lunatic said:
What the hell are you talking about? I wouldn't want a child of mine to ride on the coat tails of my hypothetical creative success for personal reasons. Has nothing to do with this guy.

At any rate, you said it yourself.

Or accepted it, or didn't want anything to do with it.
So yeah, it's pretty clear the mother didn't give two shits about royalties from TARDIS uses.

Your argument that Coburn didn't file against BBC "because he didn't know it would be a multinational success" is utter bullshit, too. If he cared at all about making extra money off the TARDIS, he would have filed for even a mildly successful show, which Doctor Who defiantly was, even in its early years, and make some significant cash. He didn't. His wife didn't (again, she clearly has a better idea of what her husband wanted than you do). This kid is the only one who cares.
 

Andrew_C

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IIRC, the Beeb pay royalties to the family of Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, so this claim is not as unreasonable as it may appear at first glance.
 

dantoddd

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Entitled said:
dantoddd said:
Entitled said:
dantoddd said:
Copyright are property which belonged to the creator and passed one to his/her successors.
No, copyrights are a government-granted monopoly over the market of a piece of information, given to specific artists with the intent of incentivizing creative industries to a certain extent.

That the copyright lobby likes to refer to said monopolistic regulations as an "intellectual property", is just an informal, unprofessional figure of speech, an analogy, and has no more legal relevance to property ownership laws, than the phrase "job hunting" has to hunting regulations or "character assassination" has to laws against assassinations.
semantics! they're fundamentally the same thing. IP are simply intangible assets.
I'm not sure if you are now arguing with me, in which case you would be better off making some actual point about my own description of IP as a government-granted monopoly being wrong, or you are acknowledging it, in which case I don't see why you keep insisting in the same sentence that they are "fundamentally the same thing".

Yes, of course a property and a copyright monopoly can both be used as intangible assets that financially benefit you. So can be having a driver's license, or being the president of France, or being married.

That doesn't explain why these are all fundamentally the same as ownership, let alone why they should all have the same logic of bequeathing them apply.
Your first argument was just a bunch of semantics. People call it intellectual property because, a) it behaves very much like property, and b) its an actual word used in legislation. see: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012A00035

And for your information all forms of property ownership, be it intellectual or otherwise, are conferred by the government.

As to why intellectual property inheritance should be treated like any other property, its fairly simple: because i want my kids to enjoy the fruits of my labor in case i die. if i were a businessman, the fruits of my labor, my legacy so to speak, would be my business. if i were a musician, the fruits of my labor, my legacy so to speak, would be my catalogue. if you're fine with the first form of inheritance, you have no right to deny the second form.