Witch walks author wins copyright case

Ian Thornton-Bryar has won an intellectual property case against Lancashire County Council after they published extensive extracts from his Pendle witch walking guide on its website.

Ian Thornton-Bryar The Lancashire Witches Walk GuideThe The Lancashire Witches Walk author has been awarded damages of £19,187, plus costs, after a Small Claims Hearing ruled in his favour.

The council copied significant parts of his book and published it on its Forest of Bowland website in 2014. He complained at the time and the council agreed to remove the text, but a year later the council put the text back online with some amendments.

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

Intellectual Property lawyer Rebecca Horne of Taylors Solicitors said the judgement against the Council is particularly damning because of the ‘calculated’ way they infringed her client’s copyright.

She said: “It’s really been a David v Goliath case with an individual taking on the might and resources of a local authority — and we’re delighted with the result”.

Judge Lambert awarded Mr Thornton-Bryar £9,000 compensation for loss of sales and royalties, and a further £10,000 for flagrant infringement of the copyright law.

The judge added: “In my judgment, the council has copied a substantial part of Mr Thornton-Bryar’s work. These actions were a deliberate and calculated infringement of copyright, or at the very least they amounted to a couldn’t care less attitude.” Ian 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."