TV Stromberg: 'The Office' In German? Disclosure: This was pointed out by the Radio Times magazine emailer and I've only seen bits of our show. But one look at the site, and the photos at least and the first thing I said out loud was 'Are they taking the piss?' The similarity is remarkable and unusually bold for what look like a major German broadcaster. Is it plagarism? Well that would depend on whether the BBC licensed a remake or whether this tv channel decided to make their own version anyway. If it was the latter, would the Radio Times which is effectively the BBC's listings magazine say the following in that email:
"A German comedy bearing striking similarities to The Office is being investigated by the BBC. Stromberg is set in a boring office, headed by an embarrassing boss who sports a goatee beard. An imminent merger means that his colleagues are all threatened with redundancy. There's also a sycophantic misfit who is forever being teased by a comparatively well-adjusted colleague.

The BBC is examining whether it has a case for breach of copyright against German broadcaster ProSieben, which began screening the show two weeks ago. The channel strenuously denies any suggestion of plagiarism."
Certainly someone posting to the show's messageboard smells a rat:
"I do not have myself remove regarded and anywhere am exactly a reference to the English transmission "The Office" to discover. This transmission in detail from there is copied. Camera style, Plot, characters, Look etc. It should be at least referred to it! More waer, as if I would have translated and as my work would have spent any English book. Genuinly 'ne dishonor!
Babel Fish has garbled a bit of that but the general opinion is still fairly clear. This has the potential to become a test case -- what consitutes all out copying or for that matter an original idea. Can a 'copy' of a parody of a format consitute plagarism. In the end, if this becomes a legal matter you can imagine that someone in court is going to be arguing about who our David Brent is and whether his German counterpart has his own attributes and is a cousin rather than a clone. One further note. The website of the channel this is shown is also advertising Red Nose Day 2004 on a page which links bac to Comic Relief UK. Which is shown on the BBC in this country. I wonder if this would have any bearing if a case is brought.

1 comment:

  1. this is such a classic ip issue, stu, adn it's been trhough the papers round here. there have been cases of this nature before (if about tv formats, not series), and i'll see whether i can draw up a real opinion for you on this...
    funnily enough, prosieben is notoriously bad with ip. they've had trouble with distributors before, and huge trademark issues with lukasfilm (and if anyone asks why i know this, i won't answer). if they have indeed "copied" the format (which seems to be the case), without licensing, they are in pretty deep shit. best thing for them, if the bbc post-licenses the show, for a hefty sum. would be cheaper than going to court, after all.
    if a lawyer was involved in this, i sure as hell am happy not to be in his/her shoes. because that person has fucked up. like completely.

    more later. yum. ip!