Doctor Who Faces Legal Threat From Son of Tardis Creator

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Doctor Who Faces Legal Threat From Son of Tardis Creator

Tardis

The son of the man who created the Tardis of Doctor Who fame is demanding that the BBC pay his family for 35 years of copyright infringement or stop using it.

Even the most casual Doctor Who fan knows about "time and relative dimensions in space," but I suspect that the majority of die-hard aficionados would be hard-pressed to tell you who actually invented the Tardis, the famed phone booth that carries The Doctor along on his adventures. That credit goes to Tony Coburn, the man who wrote "An Unearthly Child," the very first Doctor Who story arc that aired in 1963. According to his son Stef, Coburn was inspired by the "alien sight" of two blue police boxes he saw during a walk on Wimbledon Common in south-west London.

Tony Coburn died in 1977, at which time his son says whatever "informal permission" he'd given to the BBC to use his work came to an end. Copyright on his ideas then went to his widow, who earlier this year passed those rights on to Stef, and he's making a more aggressive claim to ownership than his parents. He says the BBC has been in violation of the copyright since his father's death and he wants it to pay for every use of the Tardis in the show since then or stop using it altogether.

"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. "The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate."

Coburn acknowledged that he is "extremely angry" that a BBC program about the series that's part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration makes no mention of his father. 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; Coburn said he would have made a claim earlier but didn't hold the rights.

Source: The Independent

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I'm sure your dad would look at you and cheer in knowing that you're not only not giving a shit about the spirit of the show, but you're also completely honest about it.

Invent your own damn TARDIS.

Andy Chalk:

"It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one)

Explains it all.

How can you even see after your eyeballs have been replaced with giant Pound signs?

Might have been a good plan... if he were across the pond in the Land of the Lawsuit. In this case, I doubt he has a leg to stand on.

"I think it is disgraceful that I am not being given money for my late father's creative work."

Well, I suppose if it were my father and I saw the opportunity for an easy fortune I might do the same thing. But I can't say I'm going to root for the guy. What happens if rulings go in his favour and the BBC refuses to pony up? 9 million weekly viewers lose either their TARDIS or their show, this guy doesn't get a penny and his father's legacy slowly fades into obscurity.

In the event of such an outcome, let me be the first to say: Good job, you greedy entitled ****.

"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.

Yay, copyright laws!

The bane of our time!

Is he really going to try and take some kind of moral high ground here? He played no part in the invention of the Tardis, the man who did saw no reason to charge the BBC more for his work, he's basically said he has no interest in the show (and by extension its fans), and the only reason he even has any kind of claim is that it was given to him (by another person who obviously didn't consider the money a priority). If he was simply trying to get his father some recognition for his work this would be fair enough and totally understandable but in reality this is nothing more than a transparent attempt to grab cash for someone else's work.

I know typically the big corporation in a case like this is seen as the 'bad guy' and the underdog gets support as a result but I really hope he doesn't see a penny from this pointless and greedy claim.

Well this is going to be a short legal battle.

Doctor Who is an original television series commissioned by the BBC, they own the copyright to everything, including the scripts and props. Coburn jr is about to look very silly when the BBC dig up Coburn sr's invoices and pay records for when he wrote the first episodes of Doctor Who for them. Hopefully he spends a lot of money in the process...

Limos:
"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.

Yea this is basically what I was thinking, if the copyright holders choose not to contest it, you cannot obtain the rights later and expect to do so. At least AFAIK at least in US copyright when you don't defend your copyright you lose it. I feel like this will go nowhere fast.

With any luck I wont get moderated for this, but what a cunt. Seriously. I takes a truly lecherous human being to sue for the use of TARDIS, effectively shitting on his own father's legacy. If his father and mother had no problem with it, and allowed the BBC to register the copyright, then he has no leg to stand on.

Pretty reasonable to pay a guy for being part of the creation of such a memorable and profitable icon.

Dunno if he's in the right legally, but, morally, he's due something.

So this guy's basically a patent troll?

Because he's patently trolling.

Andy Chalk:

"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.

Is this actually considered a children's show in Britain? Most people I know who watch it are well into their 20s or 30s. This guy is doing a lousy job of pretending he's not a complete tool.

What a shame it is that this poor man didn't get paid a single penny for all the hard work that he didn't do.

Roander:

Andy Chalk:

"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.

Is this actually considered a children's show in Britain? Most people I know who watch it are well into their 20s or 30s. This guy is doing a lousy job of pretending he's not a complete tool.

It's not considered a children's program, it's considered a family show. And yeah, I don't think this guy really cares about his father's honour.

Yeah. That's all I can see, here.

hmm how does a book or a book case sound

This guy's being a right old muppet. The TARDIS, by design, can shift its appearance to something else. It wouldn't take the writers much to go "Okay, the camouflage is fixed now, it's going to be a red phone box".

Roander:

Andy Chalk:

"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.

Is this actually considered a children's show in Britain? Most people I know who watch it are well into their 20s or 30s. This guy is doing a lousy job of pretending he's not a complete tool.

It's Kid Friendly, but it's meant for everyone. Tom Baker's 4th Doctor aired all the time on BBC Kids in Canada, despite the fact that most of his episodes were borderline Gothic Horror tales.

Words cannot describe how much I hate copyright laws.

Limos:
"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.

Try actually reading the article. It's the second bloody paragraph in, so it isn't hard to miss, considering you quoted something from the end.

Tony Coburn died in 1977... Copyright on his ideas then went to his widow, who earlier this year passed those rights on to Stef...

It would of been up to the mother, at the time BBC claims to have made their copyright, to offer up any resistance to it. And I'm guessing that it would be a lot harder to find out that BBC did try to copyright it back then, and I also doubt there's anything in particular saying "Hey, make sure nobody did this first or try to contact them beforehand".

It's why, for instance in the US, you have idiots trying to sue anyone and thing for using "Edge" in the name of something, or trying to say that their idea scribbled on a napkin constitutes a patent infringement when he claims all of those MMOs out there stole his idea.

Colburn:

"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,"

Couldn't resist slipping in that little jibe eh? I'm with Fix-the-spade on this, while I'm no expert I'd be very surprised if Tony Colburn (the father) didn't sign away his rights to the work as part of his contract with the BBC, I mean that's how it normally works right?

Yeah, if I ever invent something that gets used in a TV show that lasts fifty years, then I most assuredly would like my son to ask for a whole bunch of money for the contribution after I'm dead. It makes perfect sense.

Neta:

How can you even see after your eyeballs have been replaced with giant Pound signs?

Rand Paul offers a very effective surgery for that.

JoJo:

Couldn't resist slipping in that little jibe eh?

Is it a jibe? I thought Doctor Who was aimed largely at kids. Is this like when wrestling fans get offended their show is called fake?

35 years of no claims over the INNUMERABLE exposure it's had on the show and merchandise as precedence.
Unless his lawyer is ridiculously good, I doubt he will win anything more than a quaint settlement.

Daaaah Whoosh:
Yeah, if I ever invent something that gets used in a TV show that lasts fifty years, then I most assuredly would like my son to ask for a whole bunch of money for the contribution after I'm dead. It makes perfect sense.

Not to mention something you were evidently okay with them using in your own life.

I mean, that's the other side of the coin here. Or possibly the same side. Dude was fine with it when he was alive. BBC believes they had "informal permission," evidently.

Copyright law needs to be completely and utterly scrapped and rewritten for todays age. Stupid shit like this should not happen...

Zachary Amaranth:

Neta:

How can you even see after your eyeballs have been replaced with giant Pound signs?

Rand Paul offers a very effective surgery for that.

JoJo:

Couldn't resist slipping in that little jibe eh?

Is it a jibe? I thought Doctor Who was aimed largely at kids. Is this like when wrestling fans get offended their show is called fake?

It is, and it isn't. It's accessible to children, but it's not a kids' show. Kids' shows tend to be inaccessible to adults, aside from the odd female-lead-for-the-dads, or a "you'll get this joke in a few years time." The plots and villains range from childishly absurd to actually quite frightening, so yeah, it's not a children's show, it's an everyone's-show...and bringing it up in that context IS supposed to be a jibe. Why else would you say it there?

The Lunatic:
Pretty reasonable to pay a guy for being part of the creation of such a memorable and profitable icon.

What work? The guy who is making the claim was 9 years old when the 'work' was being done.

This will go nowhere. Terry Nation has always got a credit in any episode in which the Daleks appeared, even into NuWho, and even when he had no direct involvement in the episode itself. Ditto for several of the other writers in episodes where their creations appeared. Anthony Coburn never did, nor is there the slightest indication that he ever felt cheated out of any kind of acknowledgement, monetary or otherwise.

Desert Punk:
Copyright law needs to be completely and utterly scrapped and rewritten for todays age. Stupid shit like this should not happen...

Im not sure how changing copyright law would help when the problem is people from making claims that dont fit the laws. This is how the legal system works - you go through a judge or jury to determine if something does or doesnt break the laws.

Anyway, my prediction based on the details given so far is that the case will be easily settled in the BBCs favour because it will count as Work For Hire, which means it was the IP of the BBC all along.

The Lunatic:
Pretty reasonable to pay a guy for being part of the creation of such a memorable and profitable icon.

Dunno if he's in the right legally, but, morally, he's due something.

The guy suing didn't. His father did, and he died in '77. When the BBC moved for their own copyright in the 80's and wasn't challenged, they were legally allowed to use it from then on out. They paid the guy who made it, his widow didn't try to get paid for it. This guy is due nothing.

The Lunatic:
Pretty reasonable to pay a guy for being part of the creation of such a memorable and profitable icon.

Dunno if he's in the right legally, but, morally, he's due something.

EDIT: Sorry didn't see that it had already been responded to

Is it reasonable if a guy willing created something as part of a show he was employed to create in and then never asked for money or thought he deserved money or sought copyright for that idea, and then passed those 'rights (that never existed)' onto his wife who also never wanted money or sort any recompense, then for his son to come along and demand payment for the thing his father created even thought his father didn't ask for payment?

I mean right, if I work in an office and I decide not to take any wages because the employers are nice and going for a difficult time, does that mean when I die my son can demand to be paid for the wages that I didn't claim?

This dude created nothing. The person who did create something was never unhappy and never asked for anything. He's just trying to squeeze money out of something he doesn't even care about and looks down upon, unlike his father did

This is hilarious. I demand some sort of funny nod towards it happen in-show after it gets defeated.

Why would it get defeated? Well, apparently, the family didn't get erased from time when the copyright was scooped up by the BBC. Failure to address the issue when it's addressed is very bad in court, and this is how many years of silence? Frankly, the TARDIS has gone through so many alterations - even on the outside - that it doesn't even hit upon relevance. But let's say we ignore all the obvious changes that happen to the TARDIS. So...where have you been since the 1980s? Where were you in 2000 for the Paul McGann movie? How about '05 for Eccleston? Tennant? Smith? No? Why wasn't this fished for sooner, like during the really-popular expanse known as Tom Baker's run?

I don't think this can be claimed when legal purchases were taken without complaint, where there has been nothing from any family member in all this time for any reason. This guy is just trying to cash in because the longest-running sci-fi show EVER has gone the 50. There is absolutely no honor, no decency, and certainly no viable claim here.

This is pretty long past the due date to argue this sort of crap... but hey with the past examples in the comic world and the real money in the Dr Who brand I can see this being a little painful to watch but i'm pretty sure the BBC are a beast not to be crossed.

Not to take the piss, well actually yeah I am, but since the Tardis looks exactly like a blue Police box, shouldn't whomever designed the actual real life blue Police boxes be suing the BBC and this twonks father's estate for ripping off HIS ideas? After all Tony Coburn didn't invent the police box, he just stole the visual design and made it into this "magical" time traveling whatsit.

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