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BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker (2018)

2018-07-04 Times.jpg

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The BBC has been accused of being heavy-handed as it pursues costly legal action in the US to identify the leaker behind Doctor Who spoilers.

The corporation filed an application in a California court for an order compelling Tapatalk to disclose the identity of a user of its app who posted raw footage from the new season online. The app enables users to post on thousands of different forums.

A 53-second clip featuring the latest Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, and two still images of the actress were shared using Tapatalk a week ago. The nature of the footage is such that the perpetrator could be a BBC insider.

The broadcaster says that it takes breaches of its "stringent" security protocols very seriously. Last year it accused Russia of deliberately leaking the final episode of the crime drama Sherlock. A Russian state broadcaster said that the spoiler was the work of hackers.

Fans responded angrily to the latest Doctor Who leak when the footage went viral. There is particular excitement about this season because Whittaker, who appeared in the show in last year's Christmas special, will star as the Doctor for her first full season.

The 36-year-old actress, who is most widely known for playing Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, is the first woman to play the part.

One fan who felt cheated wrote on Twitter: "People who leak footage or go hunting for the leaked footage or share the footage are just awful people. This is people's hard work, you don't own the show, you are fans. Be patient and you will be rewarded."

The BBC said that Tapatalk was not accused of any wrongdoing and that users who uploaded copyrighted material were violating the app's terms.

It is understood that the unfinished clip featured stop-gap music and had not gone through the complete editing process. The BBC said that this could help investigators to identify the part of the production chain in which the leak originated before it was uploaded to the web using Tapatalk.

A spokesman for BBC Studios said that the corporation was taking the theft and illegal distribution of content extremely seriously. He added: "We will strive to protect our programme makers, audiences and licence-fee payers from any breaches of security — ensuring Doctor Who fans enjoy the final and fully completed version of the episode when it premieres."

Lawyers said that the BBC's case was clumsy and unlikely to succeed. Mark Stephens, of Howard Kennedy, a firm of solicitors, said: "It's surprising and a bit heavy-handed. It's also unlikely to succeed. The law in the US is different to UK law. It's up to you to keep your secrets. If you can't keep them, and the media, or a company like Tapatalk, publishes them, they are not doing anything wrong. That's how the Snowden leaks [of US intelligence material] could be published by The New York Times."

He added: "The BBC is also a news organisation that relies on leaks for its news output."

He said that the legal action could cost the BBC $300,000 (£228,000).

It is not the first time that Doctor Who material has been leaked. In 2014 BBC Worldwide apologised after footage and scripts from the series were accidentally uploaded to a publicly accessible server. In 2005 a person accused of leaking an episode was sacked after an investigation.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Bridge, Mark (2018-07-04). BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker. The Times p. 19.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Bridge, Mark. "BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker." The Times [add city] 2018-07-04, 19. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Bridge, Mark. "BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker." The Times, edition, sec., 2018-07-04
  • Turabian: Bridge, Mark. "BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker." The Times, 2018-07-04, section, 19 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/BBC_calls_on_California_court_to_find_and_exterminate_Doctor_Who_leaker | work=The Times | pages=19 | date=2018-07-04 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 July 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=BBC calls on California court to find and exterminate Doctor Who leaker | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/BBC_calls_on_California_court_to_find_and_exterminate_Doctor_Who_leaker | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 July 2019}}</ref>