BBC seeks source of Doctor Who leaks amid fears that more stolen material could be released

There may be more illegally obtained content from Jodie Whittaker’s first series in private hands, and the BBC is determined to find it

Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill in Doctor Who series 11 (BBC, HF)

The BBC is working hard to track down the source of some serious leaks from Doctor Who, which include a clip and images of Jodie Whittaker’s new Thirteenth Doctor in her very first episode – and RadioTimes.com has learned that this is partly out of concern that there could be even more stolen material from the new series in private hands.

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We understand that BBC Studios (a commercial subsidiary of the BBC involved in the distribution of Doctor Who) is currently determined to track down various figures who indicated on social media that they had received the leaked material prior to its wider circulation earlier this year, with the goal of finding the original source of the leaks and therefore preventing even more intellectual property from the new series being distributed online.

In the course of this search, BBC Studios has subpoenaed tech giant Microsoft in US Federal Court for “all information that may identify the alleged infringer who posted infringing content”.

“The infringing material includes, without limitation, an unauthorized copy of copyrighted video content from Season 11, Episode 1 of Doctor Who, for which BBC Worldwide Limited t/a BBC Studios (Distribution) is the exclusive licensee,” the application says.

The new Microsoft filing is aimed primarily at the company’s file hosting service OneDrive, which was allegedly used to store and share a copy of the leaked series 11 clip. The subpoena asks the company to share any data that may help identify the person who uploaded the clip, including “any name, account name, address, telephone number, email address, birth date, profile photo, device information, browser information, location information, information from others (e.g., Facebook or Google+) and time posted.” (via TorrentFreak).

An earlier filing against forum tool Tapatalk was an attempt to identify someone who had posted the material online.

At the moment, it’s difficult for the BBC to prevent further leaks without knowing the original source of the material, or how much material was taken, so the legal application – which sources say is an entirely amicable process between the BBC, Microsoft and TapaTalk and a fairly standard procedure that has to be enacted due to privacy laws – is their best shot at keeping the new series under wraps and protecting the BBC’s IP.

And with some concern that even more illegally obtained copyrighted material might be in the hands of the original leaker, the BBC is keen to act decisively.

“As we said last month when we sought cooperation from the TapaTalk mobile platform, BBC Studios takes the theft and illegal distribution of our content extremely seriously,” a spokesperson said.

“We will strive to protect our programme-makers, audiences and licence fee payers from any breaches of security.

“The latest submissions in the US are a continuation of that process whereby we ultimately want to ensure that Doctor Who fans enjoy the final and fully completed version of the episode when it premieres in the autumn.”

Overall, it seems that BBC Studios is hoping that these applications will eventually crack down on any further illegal distribution of license fee-funded content, and make sure that existing leakers don’t release any more material ahead of the series’ official release this autumn.

And given many fans’ anticipation for Jodie Whittaker’s new Doctor, we’re betting plenty of them would rather avoid having it spoiled too. Fingers crossed that at least a few secrets make it through to broadcast.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this autumn