Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 11:42 UK

Dr Who fan in knitted puppet row

Oods
The Oods appeared in Doctor Who last month

A Doctor Who fan is embroiled in a row with the BBC after she published knitting patterns for the sci-fi drama's monsters on the internet.

The patterns of Ood and Adipose were removed from her website after the BBC's commercial arm complained that they breached its trademark.

But the woman said the corporation was "making an example of her".

BBC Worldwide said it acted because finished figures were being sold by others on auction website eBay.

It also denied threatening legal action and said it had offered to consider marketing the designs itself.

'Ordinary fan'

The 26-year-old, who does not want to be identified other than as her online moniker of Mazzmatazz, said: "All I want is the BBC to be fair."

"I'm just an ordinary fan, who happens to like knitting and sci-fi, and everything has just gone a bit crazy," she said on her website.

Her case is being publicised by the Open Rights Group, a lobbying organisation which specialises in digital rights issues.

Executive director Becky Hogge told BBC News: "She doesn't feel she's doing anything wrong yet she's being threatened with legal action."

"In the offline world, what she'd be doing would be fine. But because she's doing it online, which is a public space, it causes a problem.

Wayne Garvie, director of content for BBC Worldwide, explains the BBC's actions

"The law is a blunt instrument - it doesn't recognise the difference between someone hawking fake Louis Vuitton handbags, and someone doing what Mazzmatazz is doing. She's not really infringing on the commercial interests of the BBC in any way.

"I imagine the BBC's brand protection team are looking out all over the web for people infringing its trademarks and the e-mail they sent to Mazzmatazz was a stock one.

"The ripple effect of that e-mail was quite upsetting."

'Unscrupulous people'

A BBC Worldwide spokesman said it was not "heavy-handed" with "genuine fans of the show", but that it had to act in the interest of licence-fee payers by protecting the Doctor Who trademark.

"If you don't protect your trademark, it's taken away from you. And Doctor Who is massive for the BBC. It's up to us to earn money from it so we can re-invest it in the BBC," he said.

He added: "It's not that we don't admire creativity from fans - most of the time, we take the view that if it's small-scale and not for profit, then we turn a blind eye.

"This lady, with the best will in the world, wanted to share with friends, family and fans.

"But there were some unscrupulous people taking these patterns and using them on eBay to make profit for themselves. Unfortunately, we had to get to the source of the patterns - and that was her website."

Flexibility

He said that Mazzmatazz was still welcome to get in touch with BBC Worldwide to discuss the issue.

"We were offering to take her ideas to our licensing team. While we don't have any plans to offer any knitted toys, in the future, who knows?"

Ms Hogge said the case raised wider issues of intellectual property law, which is currently being reviewed by the government.

"The BBC have got a difficult situation here - the fans are a very important part of Doctor Who," she said.

"This situation shows there should be some flexibility in the law - both for fans and for the BBC."


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