Doctor Who: a note about the story we’ve had to withdraw

Following a legal cease and desist letter we’ve received from lawyers acting on behalf on the BBC/BBC Studios (and not directly from the BBC’s own legal department), we thought it prudent to explain what’s happened over the past 24 hours.

Yesterday, iTunes across Europe revealed the launch date for Doctor Who series 11, a series that we’re hugely looking forward to. We reported this date, which turned out to have been released prematurely by Apple. Nonetheless, in good faith we reported a date that was in the public domain.

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon we received a cease and desist letter for doing so. We withdrew the story.

Please understand that we’re an independent site without a legal department to fight letters like this. As much as we feel we didn’t do anything wrong, we can’t risk the future of the site, and can’t afford the legal advice we’d need. Nor do we want to get into a fight over the story.

The text of the letter we received said that “while I understand the information posted under the said URL was obtained from open sources, it is classified and not intended to be available to the Public, thus we kindly inform you that despite any circumstances, it constitutes a breach of a trade secret, and further distribution of the information may contribute to accumulating ongoing losses to my Client”.

How we’ve contributed to losses for the lawyer’s client we have no idea. We can only hope that Apple is getting a similar legal letter.

Our strong guess is that people working directly for the BBC, and working on Doctor Who, had no idea that such letters – which were from an “anti-piracy protection” lawyer – were being sent out. Good people work on the show, who have to put up with all sorts of nonsense.

We continue to look forward to Doctor Who series 11, and hope you can understand why we had to take the story down. Yes, we think it’s unfair. But it won’t affect how we cover the upcoming series. Whatever day it happens to launch on.

We’d strongly recommend that the BBC has a close look at the tactics of lawyers who claim to be acting on its behalf.