So The BBC Don’t Want Me To Have A Facebook Page

Just to clear up some confusion, this post is talking about The Strictly Spoiler page on the Facebook social network. Only that page is affected and it is business as usual still on this website

So about 30 minutes ago I received a notification from Facebook and an email informing me that The Strictly Spoiler Facebook page had been removed following a complaint that the page violates a 3rd party’s trademark rights. The email received is below:

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So yeah, basically the BBC have complained to Facebook that the page violated their trademark of Strictly Come Dancing even though said page was called “The Strictly Spoiler” and didn’t remotely infringe on their trademarks.

Needless to say I’m not very happy this has happened. The Facebook page was starting to become somewhat of a community with over 1,000 people liking it and many commenting on posts discussing the show, the spoiler and all things Strictly. I’ve also expended a significant amount of money advertising the page on Facebook in order to help build it up, money which has now gone to waste! I’m sure the BBC having this Facebook Page removed is more about trying to stop the results leaking out than it is breach of their trademark especially as many other pages and groups which do use the trademarked text exist and don’t seem to have been targeted by the BBC. Pages/groups such as this one, this one, this one and even this one all clearly infringe the trademark that the BBC is so concerned about and yet they remain on Facebook!

Of course if the BBC aren’t happy with me posting the spoiler to Facebook (or indeed anywhere else) the simple solution would be to do away with the whole pre recording the results show and have it live. It seems a waste of time, not to mention license fee payers money to have staff working to take down a page on Facebook that wasn’t infringing on their trademarks anyway.

Whilst I probably could fight it I simply don’t have the time or the resources to be in a legal battle with a large corporation at the moment. I am an individual with limited financial resources and I’m also a university student with many assignments due in so don’t have a lot of time either. The BBC are a large corporation with many millions of pounds of license fee payers money that they could waste on a legal battle with an individual. It wouldn’t be the first time (*cough* The Stig *cough*). Obviously if anyone who views this site is a copyright/trademark lawyer and wants to work for free…….. well it was worth a try! I am fighting this to the best of my ability though and you can read more about the fight and how you can help HERE

In the mean time I’ve removed any links to the Facebook page from the main site and posts. I’m also suspending entry to the competition  I’ve been running on Facebook (for obvious reasons) and Twitter (as a precaution) so currently the only way to enter that competition is through this site now and all entries received on Facebook/Twitter will be void. I really wanted to give something back to the people who have made this site and respective social network communities a success and hopefully I can still do that but having this page taken down on Facebook has unnerved me somewhat and I may have to tone down my activities on social networking sites in the meantime.

Complaints to the BBC

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  • Monica

    I am not on Facebook but am an avid follower and participant of your Strictly spoiler site along with so many others who obviously enjoy the light hearted banter and exchange of views and opinions. I would have thought and hoped that the Bbc would have more important things to worry about – just about sums them up really – wade in on the minor easy target whilst ignoring huge fundamental problems within their organisation. Don’t give up Dave – we love you !!

  • Alison Reeves-Brown

    Well talk about being petty. I loved your site and it did no harm to anyone or the BBC. If you want to know who is out on Saturday then you can look if not you don’t. You are not losing them licence fee money or doing any harm to their large corporation. You are providing a brilliant service to people who want to know. Surly they have better things to do and worry about. Please carry on and those of us like minded people will support you. Surly they will not insist on you shutting down this site. Keep up the good work.

  • Alison Reeves-Brown

    Sorry but can you not start it up again calling it something else? I that was a very stupid question please ignore.

    • It’s not a stupid question. I’m not sure if calling it something else would work. The page was called “The Strictly Spoiler” same as this website which doesn’t infringe on the “Strictly Come Dancing” trademark in the slightest which is what leaves me to believe this is more about what the page and this site does.

      Not to mention I invested £85 of my own money into advertising the page to build it up to the the amount of likes it had before it was removed and which helped it become the community it had become. I’m loathe to do that again only to have it removed again because the BBC have nothing better to do. Plus when I logged into Facebook it warned me that if it had to remove more content they could deactivate my Facebook account which wouldn’t be good at all

      • Alison Reeves-Brown

        Thanks for that reply Dave and I can now see why you do not want to start again, £85 is a lot of money. We will continue to enjoy this site. Hopefully no one can ask you to close this down.

        • I think they’ll have a harder job with this site and if all else fails I’ll move the content back to my personal blog which they would have a hard time claiming violates their trademarks as I’m pretty sure they don’t have a Trademark on Dave Thorp’s Blog!

          I suspect they just filed a report with Facebook and Facebook didn’t look at it properly (as if they had they would see there clearly wasn’t any form of infringement on the Strictly Come Dancing trademark) and just rubber stamped it and removed the content. Sadly Facebook don’t give any method of appeal and merely direct you to who made the complaint (so the BBC). I have fired an email off to the BBC pointing out relevant sections of the law, how my content in no way infringes on their trademark (I haven’t to my knowledge launched my own Saturday Night dance show and called it Strictly Come Dancing. Nor have I launched a range of make up, hair extensions or one of the many other things that the BBC trade mark applies to) however I suspect the BBC will stick two fingers in their ears and go “La La La La we are not listening”

          I’ve also submitted a freedom of information request to the BBC on how many reports they have made to Facebook for trademark infringement over the past 10 years, the data from which I fully expect to show that the BBC have no interest in protecting a trademark but are merely attempting to silence a source for the spoiler. There’s a large number of pages and groups on Facebook many of which actually do infringe on BBC Intellectual Property by using the words “Strictly Come Dancing” or the official Strictly Logo however these pages and groups remain on Facebook because this is not remotely about protecting IP but about fighting the spoiler leaking out. Of course if the BBC want to silence the spoiler the simple solution is to stop pre recording the results show and broadcast the results live. Something which despite the loss of income from this site I would suffer would still make me very happy!

  • Jan

    Oh no … Loved your site .. how petty of the BBC !!!!!!

  • Just to clear up, as yet no action has been taken against this site so currently it’s still business as usual here. This is only affecting the Facebook page and the community over there

  • David C

    The BBC start by treating us like fools with their ridiculous charade of leading us to believe that the show is over two days. My wife and I were in Blackpool a few years ago and on the Sunday evening it was like a ghost town around the tower. Also, why do they not release details of voting numbers? Methinks it amounts to a fiddle and although the they cite participants’ self esteem those folks enter the competition knowing full well that it is a votes-driven process.
    And please do not get me started on the flawed judges’ comments and sycophantic comments to their favourites.
    Keep up the fun Dave!!!

    • Jim Shelley

      Agreed

  • Patricia Burke

    Love your blogs keep them coming

  • Rebekah

    As a quick point. If their problem is really with trademark infringement then you could solve the problem by changing the word ‘strictly’ in the title. There argument would be that, though unlikely to confuse people that your site is connected with the bbc, you are potentially taking advantage of the bbc’s trademark in strictly come dancing, to reach a bigger audience (riding on their coat tails so to speak) or that you are damaging there trademark, damaging its value for example. I would suggest that both of these arguments are quite tenuous in nature BUT to be safe, you could avoid the conflict with trademark law of you simply change the name of your fb page. If the title doesn’t involve ‘strictly’ then trademark will not apply. Equally, they cannot stop you releasing the results early as the result is unlikely to be protected by confidentiality by virtue of the fact that it is released in a public forum initially (in front of a studio audience).

    Hope this helps

    • Hi Rebekah,

      I did have a look through the relevant law myself shortly after it happened so drew similar conclusions to you about my position

      I do highly doubt that this is remotely about protecting a trademark but is simply a way to attack the spoiler. There’s a ton of pages and groups on Facebook that actually do use the trademarked text and/or their official logos but those groups remain

      I could make a new page with a new name but there is two reasons I really don’t want to. Firstly I expended a lot of money advertising the original page to get it to where it was before it got taken down and I’m reluctant to do that again only for the same thing to happen again especially given we are towards the end of the series anyway with only 3 more spoilers after this week so there seems little point in trying to build something up again for only a few weeks.

      The second reason comes down to brand identity. The Strictly Spoiler has become my brand and the brand I’ve operated this under since it took off last year (until then it was always just a bit of fun on my personal blog). I shouldn’t have to weaken or change my brand identity because the BBC take issue not with the brand but what that brand does. The BBC’s trademarks cover the words “Strictly Come Dancing”. They don’t have a trademark on just the word “Strictly” and I’m not certain it would be granted were they to apply for one. The only trademark I can find on just “Strictly” is owned by someone operating in the Wine class so is a different class to me anyway.

      I agree with you that the BBC’s main argument would likely be that the page impacts their brand however there would be significant argument it does not and like you I agree that their arguments would be tenuous. Looking over the comments on here a large number still watch the Sunday results show in spite of already knowing the results and the Sunday Night results show still draws in huge viewing figures especially given its slot on a Sunday Evening so the BBC can’t really claim an impact on their brand. Even if there was an impact on viewing figures there would also be an argument that viewing figures don’t matter to the BBC (or they shouldn’t) due to the way they are funded.

      I’m beginning to think it may be worth me trademarking the brands I operate in order to strengthen my position. Obviously there’s another significant cost were I to go down this route but it may strengthen my hand with the BBC, not to mention a user on Twitter who impersonates this site and plasters the spoiler all over the strictly hashtags

  • Fayzle

    It really doesn’t surprise me, but it’s sad that an organisation of such size feels the need to do this. Does my licence fee contribution have a say? Mind you they’re never wrong are they! Totally agree with all the comments about the results farce it’s an insult to keep the charade up. I’m not on Facebook but will let my friends and family who are and who watch know about this so they can spread the word. Keep up the good work! Nobody forces me to read who’s gone!

  • chrispy

    Hmm. Though I’m not a Facebook user, the BBC’s action sounds to me very much like an attempt to control free speech. (Perhaps they’ll complain next that ‘BBC’ is a trade mark? Should prove interesting……)
    As others have said, ‘if you don’t want to know, don’t look’.
    However, considering some of the other pathetic inane actions the overpaid and overstaffed BBC has taken, this also seems petty and puerile.
    More power to your elbow, Dave, keep up the good work and ‘Thank You’ for the information each week.
    Cheers and Good Luck.

  • Richard

    Hi Dave

    I agree with all the above. Yes, probably a good idea to register your own trademark, Strictly Spoiler.

    Also cant think why Facebook took down the site so readily, clearly their trademark was not used on your page. They probably didn’t want to fall foul of a large company.

  • Mike

    The BBC is not recognising today’s social media reality. Far better there’s a spoiler website, a specific Facebook page etc that people who want to find the result can go to (and those who don’t can avoid) rather than the alternative … ie mass, indiscriminate, viral communication via e mail, individuals’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts etc. That would be the real spoiler.