The BBC is turning to the California Federal Court to help it discover who leaked footage from an upcoming season of Doctor Who, one of its most successful shows.
The footage, which lasts just short of a minute, reportedly shows the new Doctor Who — Jodie Whittaker — along with two photos of the actor. The content was shared on the Tapatalk app, which offers people easy access to forums from across the web.
California-based Tapatalk isn’t accused of any malpractice; the app’s terms and conditions warns users against sharing copyrighted material.
Representing the show, BBC Studios is asking the court to force Tapatalk to release data that could reveal the source of the leak, BBC News reported this week.
The British media giant said in a statement that it will “strive to protect our program-makers, audiences and license fee payers from any breaches of security — ensuring Doctor Who fans enjoy the final and fully completed version of the episode when it premieres.”
According to the BBC, the leaked footage had not completed the production process and therefore lacked the proper color grading. It also included “temporary music.” Such characteristics could help to pinpoint the perpetrator, the BBC said, as they may help to identify where along the production process the leak occurred.
Another clue could come from the discovery that a “small number” of people on text and chat app Discord had talked about the leaked content prior to its appearance on Tapatalk.
The link to the footage has since been removed from Tapatalk, and BBC Studios has been working to remove the content from various social media services and other websites.
The BBC’s long-running sci-fi series has built up a huge fanbase over the years, with leaks proving to be something of an occasional problem for the show. But it’s not always mysterious miscreants spoiling the fun. In 2014, BBC Worldwide, which merged with BBC Studios in April, was forced to issue a public apology after it accidentally gave online access to five scripts and six unfinished episodes from an upcoming season.
More recently, the Doctor himself, then Peter Capaldi, unexpectedly revealed during an interview that he was retiring from the show before any official announcement had been made.
Steven Moffat, at the time Doctor Who‘s showrunner, said of Capaldi’s surprise revelation: “In this world where … it is absolutely impossible to keep secrets, there was no point in trying. I’d far rather nobody knew until the regeneration. That would be so exciting, but we just can’t do it.”
The next season of Doctor Who, which stars Whittaker as the first female Doctor in its 55-year history, airs in the fall.
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