from the time-and-relative-dementia-in-copyright dept
"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 favourite children's programme. 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."It would be great to get some UK copyright lawyers to weigh in on the specifics, but it seems like there are a bunch of interrelated issues here, none of which bode well for Coburn's claim. There's a question of whether there's even a legitimate copyright here at all (copyright is supposed to be on expression, not ideas)? If there is a legitimate copyright, would it even have belonged to Coburn and not the producers of the show he was hired to write for? If it did belong to him and not the producers, what was the nature of the contract -- formal or informal -- between them and was there any indication that it would end upon his death? And, of course, there's the only issue of laches, for not doing a damn thing about this for 35 years. It seems fairly likely that nearly all of those questions are likely to be answered in a way that favors the BBC and not the younger Coburn.
Once again, though, it seems like yet another case where the popular myth of copyright -- that it's about "ownership" of some "creation" -- leads to this kind misguided attack.