BBC faces copyright row over popular show

Popular TV show McMafia, a drama following a Cambridge educated banker who is the son of a Russian mobster, has led to BBC One facing a copyright dispute from a film director recently, accusing the BBC of being in breach of copyright.

Writer Wilf Varvill launched a legal complaint against the show last year, due to his concerns that the BBC had breached his copyright and confidentiality. Recently, the row has escalated into a claim being launched in the High Court which alleges breach of confidence and copyright infringement.

Mr Varvill has said that McMafia was largely based on his short film from 2007 entitled Londongrad. He alleged that the BBC had been interested in Londongrad for some years and ‘knew the pitch inside out’. He claims that the idea for Londongrad was “shared on a confidential basis” with the BBC in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

Allegedly, the plans for Londongrad were dropped after it transpired that the BBC had commissioned McMafia, a gangster-themed drama which explored “similar territory” to Londongrad.

The BBC has denied any breach of confidence or copyright infringement, stating ‘McMafia is an original series created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins and inspired by Misha Glenny’s 2008 book of the same name’.

The outcome of the dispute remains to be seen.

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Maung Aye
Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell Turner Garrett following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex. Maung read European Legal Studies at Lancaster University and the Università degli Studi di Trento and is a fluent Italian speaker.