Wednesday, July 09, 2008

BBC says no more knitting

Looks like I missed a bit of excitement about two months ago, both in the world of fandom and the world of craft-related websites.

For a while now, my husband has been saying that I need to start a new blog, one that is entirely about knitting. I haven't done it yet, for several reasons. One, the husband has a bunch of blogs that he tries to make money from, and he thinks that I should do the same, while I think the idea of making money from blogs is mostly a boat that has already sailed and don't really want to bother with it. Two, there are already a lot of other knitting blogs out there written by people who are really good at it. Three, if I did ever do such a thing, I would want to do a good job of it, and that would take a lot of time and maybe a lot of work, and I hate to put that much work into something on the remote chance that I might make a few bucks. If it was something that I enjoyed doing and could create something that I was proud of, and then it happened to make some money, that would be different.

Anyway, I got to thinking that I could set up another blog and start writing stuff on it, but for now just not publish any posts. So I've done that. I created a new blog that doesn't have any published posts. I started writing a few things, but they are only drafts at the moment and only I can read them.

So I haven't embarrassed myself yet, see?

Okay, so while I was working on the thing I thought that I might as well have some links, and that I would want to link to, just as I have a link to the site on this blog. And I haven't visited the site in several months. Probably I haven't looked at it since before Christmas. But yesterday I went there, just cause I was about to add this link to the new blog. And there was this message from about six weeks ago saying that the guy was afraid that the BBC was going to order him to shut the site down, and that we should all make copies of any patterns we wanted, just in case.

The reason he was afraid of being shut down was this story. Apparently the BBC saw that someone was making these little knitted things that looked like aliens from Dr. Who and then selling them on eBay. So eBay pulled the listings for the items. The BBC then went to the website where a fan had posted the knitting patterns for the alien things and told her to stop. She wasn't selling the patterns, she had created the patterns herself and was giving them away for free to anyone who wanted to try to make them. Someone else was trying to sell stuff on eBay. Not quite sure if they just politely asked her to stop, or if the BBC did some legal thing, but either way the woman pulled the patterns off of her website.

Anyway, fans have been making their own Dr. Who scarves for about thirty years now. There was an "official" scarf many years ago, but they only made it that once and they didn't make enough to match the demand. So if you know how to knit or you are friends with someone who knits, you make your own or you have someone else make one for you. Sometimes someone makes a lot of them and sells them on eBay or even on their own websites.

Which is not saying that the people making these scarves are getting rich. I've seen the scarves sell for about a hundred dollars. Even if you have a machine to do a lot of the work, for the most part a knitting machine isn't something that you push a few buttons and then go to lunch and come back to find a completed scarf. So even if you have a machine you still spend a lot of time on it. And of course yarn isn't free either. If I wanted to sell a scarf, and I wanted to make a reasonable ten dollars an hour for my time, I would need to sell the scarves for at least $175. (That's for season 12. Other seasons are longer or more complicated and would cost more.) So I figure that the people who sell the scarves on eBay are a bit better at this than I am, but they are still working for about five dollars an hour.

Anyway, while there are copyright laws and all of that, and the BBC probably has the legal right to make someone stop selling things that came from the show, and they might even have the right to ask someone to stop telling people how to make their own toys and/or costumes, for the most part you're supposed to know not to enforce this particular right on fans who are not getting rich from knitting and who are not in direct competition with anything they are selling. Fan made stuff is free advertising, so the fans are usually left alone.

All of this was almost two months ago, and the Doctor Who Scarf website is still there, so I'm guessing that they are not going to do anything about it.

So why all the drama over some knitted toys now, while we've been knitting scarves for decades without anyone bothering anybody about it? My husband thinks that it's because the alien knitting patterns were designed on something from the new show, and the people in charge are more serious about such things now than decades ago when the old show was on. My theory is that the recent toys are the image of characters, while the scarves are just scarves. We try to copy the pattern of the scarves, but there's not anything like a Dr. Who logo on them and the don't say Dr. Who on them or anything like that.

Anyway, I had a look yesterday, and Dr. Who type scarves are still available on eBay. So I guess for now only the toys are forbidden, and maybe that will be the end of it.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

I guess I won't be making the big bucks selling Dalek salt-shakers, then.

I suppose someone could be tricky with BBC scarf listings and avoid copyright problems and still get keyword searches by advertising "Colourful scarf, made for a doctor who loved it"