Lancashire County Council forced to pay £19k for copying author's work

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by Simon Austin
Lancashire Witches

The writer of a Pendle Witch walking guide has successfully sued Lancashire County Council for copying his work.

In what has been described as a ‘David v Goliath’ victory, Ian Thornton-Bryar has been awarded damages of £19,187, plus costs, after a Small Claims Hearing found the Council had published extensive extracts from his guide, The Lancashire Witches Walk, on its website.

District Judge Lambert criticised the Council’s “couldn’t care less attitude” towards Thornton-Bryar’s claims for copyright.

The Council was found to have copied significant parts of the text and published it on its Forest of Bowland website in 2014. Thornton-Bryar complained and the Council agreed to remove the text, but a year later it put it back online with only some amendments.

Judge Lambert said that the Council chose to publish the Lancashire Witch Walk guide on its website without consulting Thornton-Bryar, or seeking a licence from him, despite knowing that a large number of extracts from his work appeared in it.

“In my judgment, the Council has copied a substantial part of Mr Thornton-Bryar’s work,” said Judge Lambert, who awarded £9,000 compensation plus £10,000 for infringement of the copyright law. 

“These actions were a deliberate and calculated infringement of copyright, or at the very least they amounted to a couldn’t care less attitude.”

Thornton-Bryar said “My aim in writing The Lancashire Witches Walk Guide was to encourage sustainable tourism and to promote the history of the Lancashire Witches.

“I wanted to bring walkers and ramblers back to the countryside to enjoy its natural beauty. I am glad to get resolution to what was a long and pointless fight. I am now actively doing talks around the area I am living now, to generate tourism to the southern counties.”

The Lancashire Witches Walk guide was written to coincide with the 400th Anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials.