Wednesday 30 January 2013

Dr Who will be expensive for small-scale cover producers

The Association of Great Britain First Day Cover Collectors reports that the Dr Who issue will be the most challenging/expensive ever in terms of using copyrighted material. (And we thought the Olympic organisations were strict!)

"A word of warning to anyone hoping to design and produce their own covers, copyright issues surrounding Doctor Who are the strictest I have ever come across.

"Do not under any circumstances be tempted to put any image or wording on your covers relating to Doctor Who or the BBC. .....  A licence for just mentioning Doctor Who or anything to do with Doctor Who is £1000. The BBC will vigorously pursue through the courts anyone infringing copyright. So you have been warned. It is a minefield like no other."

So aside from some retro televisions, I suspect there will be a lot of covers showing other generic images such as this!


  1. This made me think of something I'd heard a while ago about ownership of the Polic box design so I researched it.

    Even using a picture of a Police Box could be potentially risky - the BBC won a battle with the Met Police for ownership of the design sometime ago. Apparently it is now more a "Tardis" than a Police Box. The Met even had to pay court costs for defending their losing appeal...

    It seems the Met missed a trick back in the 60's as they could have made quite a sum from the BBC for it over the years had they been on the ball.

  2. And where does this leave anyone seeking to produce double covers, applying one or more stamps to a cover which may or may not have had (or required) a licence when it was produced some time ago?

    1. That's a good question and one to which we have no answer.

      If I were doing a single such cover I would expect it to be OK. If I did 20 or more for resale I would expect a problem. The special handstamp centres generally do not police these matters, as enforcement is a matter for the intellectual property holder.

      However they did reject some Prince of Wales 2nd wedding stamps on 1st wedding covers. And for the Commonwealth Games there was one sponsored postmark (which showed their logo) for which everybody had to have permission from the organisers. Apparently the sponsor and Royal Mail hadn't made it clear that the postmark would be available to everybody. Royal Mail were embarrassed about the situation and the games organisers granted free permission to collectors wanting to use the postmark for their personal collections !

  3. I think the BBC are correct in their approach to copyrights w.r.t Doctor Who, I know it may seem harsh but it surely only applies to people who want to use the images for commercial gain, therefore why shouldn't they pay for the privilege of making money. All major blockbusters in entertainments field are protected this way so I applaud the BBC for getting something right.

    1. When we produced first day covers for every stamp issue our quantities were typically 20-50. This is enough to be commercial, but if we had to pay £1000 it would be uneconomic even at the top end. We had to find a way round this with several organisations, which is why our covers were inventive and attractive to many.

      See particularly

      The Beatles -
      Sky at Night - and
      Lord of the Rings -

      A nominal fee, whilst more difficult for them to administer, would be fairer to the stamp trade.

    2. I agree entirely with the nominal fee, but sadly we live in a very greedy world. Wouldn't it be nice if organisations like the BBC could be a little more generous


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