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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite 186

Posted by timothy
from the you're-gonna-need-a-bigger-tardis dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this report from Torrentfreak, excerpting: In just a few hours time the brand new season of Doctor Who will premiere, kicking off with the first episode 'Deep Breath'. There's been a huge build up in the media, but for fans who prefer to socialize and obtain news via a dedicated community, today brings bad news. Doctor Who Media (DWM) was a site created in 2010 and during the ensuing four and a half years it amassed around 25,000 dedicated members. A source close to the site told TF that since nothing like it existed officially, DWM's core focus was to provide a central location and community for everything in the 'Whoniverse,' from reconstructions of missing episodes to the latest episodes, and whatever lay between. But yesterday, following a visit by representatives from the BBC and Federation Against Copyright Theft, the site's operator took the decision to shut down the site for good.
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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Title says it all.

  • Don't worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chelloveck (14643) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:29AM (#47736507) Homepage
    Don't worry, I'm sure it will regenerate soon enough.
  • by slickepott (733214) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:37AM (#47736559)

    Hmm.. Sounded something like this?

    EX-TER-MI-NATE!

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:38AM (#47736565) Homepage
    FACT was involved, so my first guess was that they were hosting full episodes, or perhaps links to torrents, but according to TFA DWM had refused to carry any of the leaked episodes from the new series which seems unlikely for a site turning a blind eye to copyright, yet further up is the following quote: "Often times, having watched stuff there led to me purchasing the exact same content on iTunes as well as all the various other content available for Doctor Who", which implies they were hosting episodes, or at least extensive clips.

    So, is this a case of major fansite being shutdown for using a more copyrighted material than the BBC was prepared to stomach (in which case where was the friendly letter asking them to "tone it down a bit, please"), a copyright infringement portal being shuttered for hosting/linking to aired episodes and other content, some kind of trademark issue, or just a domain grab by the BBC ("doctorwhomedia.co.uk" is a fairly nice domain name, afterall)?
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:41AM (#47736595)

      They were hosting full episodes. If the guy had taken them down, the forum could have gone on, but people mostly went there for the episodes, so that would have killed the site.

      Also, 25000 users is "huge"?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Thank you for giving more information.

        Hey Slashdot Editors and posters. Information like this would have been nice to know in the summary. Otherwise it make it sounds like a fan site was shut down for having information about a show.

        Get your fucking act together and stop trying to feed into FUD.

        • Thank you for giving more information.

          Hey Slashdot Editors and posters. Information like this would have been nice to know in the summary. Otherwise it make it sounds like a fan site was shut down for having information about a show.

          Get your fucking act together and stop trying to feed into FUD.

          From the summary:

          DWM's core focus was to provide a central location and community for everything in the 'Whoniverse,' from reconstructions of missing episodes to the latest episodes, and whatever lay between.

          They d

      • by 7bit (1031746)

        They were hosting full episodes. If the guy had taken them down, the forum could have gone on, but people mostly went there for the episodes, so that would have killed the site.

        Also, 25000 users is "huge"?

        I am a little confused; Isn't all material on the BBC public property in Britain since it's paid for with taxes?

        • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:58AM (#47736671) Journal
          No. It doesn't work like that.

          The BBC itself is publicly owned, so in that sense, it is public property, but we don't have the right to individual assets any more than a shareholder in Sony can start making copies of Spiderman DVDs.

          Also it's paid for by a licence fee rather than taxes. You can call them taxes if you like, but it doesn't go into or come out of central taxation.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, you see, this would now be classed as second generation content, which is content not being broadcast, so can be sold.

          See, there is a huge pickle right there in that they aren't allowed to SELL their content online, yet they are still allowed to sell DVDs and the like. What?
          Fuck the Beeb. BBC should be allowed to sell access to stuff through the iPlayer. Period. There should be a period of, say, 1-6 months where it is freely available on iPlayer, then it goes "in to the archives", available for purc

          • by vakuona (788200)

            BBC original series tend to stay on iPlayer for long enough. It's the series that are not BBC original that tend to stay shortest.

      • by MrL0G1C (867445)

        You are ignoring the fact that it was UK tax-payers money that paid for everything Dr Who so it is a complete piss take that we don't have access to this for free.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Teun (17872)
          Nothing to do with taxpayers, it's licence payers that finance the Beep.
      • by Zocalo (252965)
        Thanks for the clarification, I was leaning towards that being that case, but as others have noted that *really* need to be in the summary as it sets the tone of the entire story from "fan site shut down" to the far more accurate and far less newsworthy "site hosting lots of copyright infringing content shutdown". There's a big difference between the BBC exercising its rights to shutter outright copyright infringement and the BBC strong-arming a legit fan site for using too much content, and it's not that
      • by grahammm (9083)

        If BBC iPlayer were to have the old episodes available, rather than its usual habit of removing programmes N days after broadcast, then there would be no incentive for fan and torrent sites to 'pirate' them.

      • by evanism (600676)

        ...and now its up to PirateBay to "host" them.

        All they have done is instantly alienate (hahaha!) 25k dedicated rabid fans.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      https://web.archive.org/web/20140614075215/http://doctorwhomedia.co.uk/

      It was a nice site but it does look like they were hosting the episdoes. Which I still think is fine myself but legal and business teams usually seem to disagree.

  • He should have held on to the domain name. He may have been obigated to shut the site down, but nothing requires him to give the name over to them. I am not familiar with trademark law in England, but in the US they probably would have no standing at all, since they didn't enforce it over the course of the last four years. Indeed, I would expect that he can sue for damages, as they allowed hi to build a community and continue to generate interest for their product, choosing to wait until they released ne
    • by whoever57 (658626)

      He should have held on to the domain name. He may have been obigated to shut the site down, but nothing requires him to give the name over to them.

      It appears there was some negotiation over the shutdown and perhaps giving up the domain name was done in order to secure the user database:

      With the user database secured, an agreement was quickly reached to close down the site and transfer the domain.

      • There is a lesson to be learned here: Don't ever, ever negotiate an agreement with two guys who show up at your door unannounced and claim that it is in your best interest to sign on the dotted line .. or else.
  • by 7bit (1031746)

    I suspect those in charge of the Dr Who franchise will end up wishing they could go back in time and reverse this stupid decision.. Especially once they see that the extermination order was signed by "The Master"...

    • by 7bit (1031746)

      I suspect those in charge of the Dr Who franchise will end up wishing they could go back in time and reverse this stupid decision.. Especially once they see that the extermination order was signed by "The Master"...

      Nevermind, if the site really was actually hosting full episodes then it really was only a matter of time before they were taken down. Though I am a little confused; Isn't all material on the BBC public property in Britain since it's paid for with taxes?

      • You'd think so wouldn't you, but no, its not, and the BBC is VERY cagey about rights management.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That' part is deliberate. If they never are willing to say what is allowed, they can claim that anything is forbidden, at whatever time ant at whatever whim moves them. It's typical BBC bureaucracy. They *refuse* to actually write standards and procedures, they just follow them like little drone bees. It gives *enormous* power to middle management.

          See "Brazil" to get a good sense of how this works out. I understood the movie much, much better after a year working for the BBC.

      • by vakuona (788200)

        Public property doesn't mean you get to do what ever you want with it any more than buying a few share in Microsoft would entitle you to demand the access to Windows source code.

        It is a license fee. You get a license to watch telly, not to own all the media.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:48AM (#47736615) Homepage

    http://doctorwhomedia.co.uk/ [doctorwhomedia.co.uk] -- however, the domain is being transferred so the content might not stay there for long. At the time of writing (23 Aug 16.45 BST) there is roughly the story above and some chats at http://doctorwhomedia.chatango.com/ [chatango.com], and whois shows the domain still owned byJonathan Carlyle .

    No real indication why it was taken down ... talking about Dr Who cannot be a problem. Was there copyrighted material hosted ?

  • "With threats of executing an official search warrant and taking the matter to court...an agreement was quickly reached to close down the site"

    Really, if he really wasn't doing anything illegal in the first place, I can't see any reason he should have caved in on this... and this is in the UK, where it's my understanding that if you try to bring someone to court and lose, then you have to pay their costs, which I imagine exists to discourage overly subjective, baseless, or slapp-like lawsuits.

    The fact th

    • by malacandrian (2145016) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @11:32AM (#47736831)

      The fact that he yielded on this suggests to me that he was aware that a search warrant would find something on his computer(s) that shouldn't have been there in the first place. It's unfortunate the site is gone, but we're not actually seeing the whole story here. Sadly, because of how things have already went, we probably never will.

      We are seeing the whole story here, /. is just choosing not to cover it adequately. The site was hosting full episodes, which was the main reason anyone visited it. This isn't the BBC using overreaching copyright laws to leverage control over its brand, it's the BBC using the reasonable end of copyright law to protect its right to control the distribution of content.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know, occasionally I start to feel a bit guilty about pirating TV shows. So it's great when the copyright owners come along and shoot themselves in the foot like this, and remind me why I really shouldn't give a fuck. I mean, that site's users are some of the most loyal fans of your fucking show. They are the people most likely to spend money on merchandise, and to buy box-sets, and to go to show-related events. That site was doing nothing except positives for the Doctor Who show. If they wanted to exer

    • That site was doing nothing except positives for the Doctor Who show. If they wanted to exercise more control over their brand, they could have at least tried to work with the site first, or even take it over and let the same people continue to run the site under their oversight. Fuckwits.

      From the summary:

      DWM's core focus was to provide a central location and community for everything in the 'Whoniverse,' from reconstructions of missing episodes to the latest episodes, and whatever lay between.

      The purpose o

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone sitting through an entire episode of The Sonic Screwdriver Show is a loyal viewer. If people use their own bandwidth to remain loyal they should be praised. Or sectioned.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I did a screensaver that had the "new series" (2005 on 'Rose' one) intro as an .avi that played back from RAM & had some pretty neat/unique tech in it by embedding that .avi into the .exe as a resource, extracting it directly to RAM & playing it back... was a HUGE hit, even with the site mod (who often gave me guff).

    That "all said & aside": I offered it DIRECTLY to the BBC, no charge, & it's 'engine' was REPLACEABLE (meaning others series' of theirs could do it, since I offered the code

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      pretty neat/unique tech in it by embedding that .avi into the .exe as a resource

      You mean like using the resource designer [microsoft.com] which has been in visual studio since as far back as... Well, forever?

      FAR MORE EFFICIENT single moving part machinery done in a language that rivals & even exceeds MSVC++ in Borland Delphi 7.1 Object Pascal code.

      MSVC++ in Borland Delphi 7.1 Object Pascal... Wow.

    • by Richy_T (111409)

      127.0.0.1 bbc.co.uk

      Done

    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      in the run-up to the new season they ran a show that specifically touted the input from fans, including fan-produced content like episodes and trailers. The new season's opening sequence was created by a fan that they discovered from a demo opening sequence he posted on the internet. Seems they are at least a bit schizophrenic about such things.

  • Daleks have infiltrated the BBC.

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