BBC FOI Request Response

So unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere for the last month you should have known that the BBC in their infinite wisdom had my Facebook page removed last month for apparently breaching their trademarks in relation to Strictly Come Dancing. The page was reinstated last week after I very lengthily pointed out that the page was not in breach of the Trademarks Act 1994 and the BBC relented although they did threaten me with the possibility of revisiting the issue if I continued to post information that was already in the public domain prior to them showing the results show. I’ve already gone into my response to that request/threat in quite some depth.

Shortly after the Facebook page was removed I sent the BBC a Freedom Of Information request asking how many complaints they had made to Facebook to request the removal of content due to alleged infringements of their Strictly Come Dancing Trademarks from 2006 until the present date and of those requests how many resulted in the removal of content. The BBC today responded to this FOI request. Here is their response:

Dear Mr Thorp 

Freedom of Information Request – RFI20151969 

Thank you for your request to the BBC of 18 November 2015, seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”): 

“The number of requests the BBC have made to have content removed from Facebook for alleged infringement of any of the trademarks the BBC holds in relation to “Strictly Come Dancing” and of those requests how many resulted in the removal of content. I require this information for each year from 2006 to 2015 inclusive with the 2015 data covering the year to date and the data for the other years covering the year as a whole.” 

It may be helpful to explain in general terms how the BBC deals with alleged infringements of trade mark rights in relation to material posted on Facebook. Reports of such infringements may come from BBC staff, partners of the BBC or from members of the public. In all cases they are dealt with by the Intellectual Property team in the BBC Legal Division. 

The team considers each report, and where action is warranted, completes a Trademark Report Form provided by Facebook on its platform to request that the content is taken down. Facebook then responds by email confirming that it has received the request. Normally in the same email, Facebook will set out its initial position on the complaint. If it does not accept the complaint, Facebook invites the complainant to clarify its position and explain why it believes its rights have been infringed. Similarly, if Facebook requires further information or evidence before it can reach a final decision, it invites the complainant to submit that further information or evidence. At this point, the Intellectual Property team will normally submit further information or evidence to Facebook and further explain how the trade mark rights in question have been infringed and why the content complained of should be taken down. If Facebook accepts these further submissions, the content is subsequently taken down. 

In relation to your request under the Act, we confirm that, during the years 2006 to 2015 inclusive, the BBC has made one request to Facebook for the removal of content on the basis of an infringement of the BBC’s trade marks relating to Strictly Come Dancing. This request was made in November 2015 and was directed at “The Strictly Spoiler” Facebook page. The request resulted in the removal of the page. 

By way of background information, the limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters was originally intended to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining its editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the BBC to fulfil this function. 

That said, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about programmes which it broadcasts and related content on the website hosted at www.bbc.co.uk. It also proactively publishes information covered by the Act on its publication scheme and regularly handles requests for information under the Act. 

Appeal Rights 

If you are not satisfied that we have complied with the Act in responding to your request, you have the right to an internal review by a BBC senior manager or legal adviser. Please contact us at the address above, explaining what you would like us to review and including your reference number. If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. The contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF. Telephone 01625 545 700 or see http://www.ico.gov.uk/ 

Yours sincerely, 

BBC Information Rights

So just my page then. In 10 years! Think that tells us everything we need to know, not that we didn’t already know that this was nothing to do with Trademark but about the content of the page in question!

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