As I noted (here) on my non-Dr. Who blog, the UK Copyright Law is changing (and yes I have the same annoying spinning GIF. In a tribute to Flip-Flop I will also link that blog post back to here as well. Anyway back to the point, at the bottom of this longer article article it mentions Dr. Who and in particular RTD and Steve M as writing fan fiction. As copyright is at the heart of Big Finish (and in a previous life for some the AudioVisuals tapes) I thought I would capture some of my thoughts and provide a real world example of why this is important…
Big Finish (now)
Big Finish are entirely scrupulous; they take copyright very seriously (e.g. don’t sell Tomorrow People any more as they don’t have the licence) and are tightly coupled to BBC Wales with regards the Dr Who audio adventures. In terms of their own products they are not an enormous company and they suffer from being ripped off by illegal downloaders. You can argue about would these people buy the stories anyhow, does putting them on Radio 7 generate or destroy business and so forth, but it is clear that like all artists and publishers this is a problem.
It is also true Big Finish contributes to the overall popularity and longevity of Dr. Who and feeds the show (e.g. Nick Briggs is the voice of the Daleks) . It gives lots of actors work and recognition and helps various writers in their careers. Lots of things that are positive and take a long term view.
In terms of this blog (as an aside) I have made an attempt to identify main copyright holders here and also have permission to use the name Red Rocket Rising. I didn’t think it reasonable to use the name without permission.
AudioVisuals (the past)
Clearly for some of the BF staff the experiences gained in producing the fan tapes (which grew into more than that) under the AudioVisuals banner helped them refine their craft and three stories made it through into the licensed era. The work also kept the Dr.Who universe alive and benefited from being on tape such that at the time it was relatively hard to duplicate and we are also talking pre-internet distribution. Could they have made money some other way and grown their talent – I suspect so but it would have necessitated a different approach.
The recordings are in a limbo (and hide in odd corners of the internet) but clearly the way the relaxing of copyright laws is going would help any future projects along these lines by others (apart from the making money bit though AV wasn’t primarily about making money except so as to fund production [I am sure there were other things going on]).