Great Plumstead Parish Council could face legal action over village sign copyright claim

Councillor Ian Mackie unveils the new Great Plumstead village sign.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Councillor Ian Mackie unveils the new Great Plumstead village sign. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A parish council could have to pay thousands of pounds or face being sued for copyright infringement over its village sign.

Councillor Ian Mackie unveils the new Great Plumstead village sign.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Councillor Ian Mackie unveils the new Great Plumstead village sign. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Last summer, Great Plumstead Parish Council unveiled its brand new sign in Church Road following a lengthy design process involving the whole community.

But almost a year after its erection in June 2016, the council received a letter from a sign-making company claiming a breach of copyright.

The letter, from H Stebbings, asked for £2,000 and stated that 'all goods' remain in the company's property until the money is paid in full.

Minutes recorded from the parish council's April meeting said members felt there was no infringement and that it had already settled the bill.


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But councillor David Johnson said it has since had to seek external advice on the matter.

'It has not been a very pleasant experience to be honest,' he said. 'I would have been quite happy to have a conversation with them if they had phoned up to say we have a breach of copyright.

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'We did not expect to be threatened to be sued as a first salvo.'

He said the sign's design process started in 2012 and members of the community were invited to submit ideas.

The winning design, which was created by Sally Jacobs and featured various scenes from the area's past, was chosen later that year.

Mr Johnson said he took the image to the sign-maker Harry Stebbings in Great Hockham in order to get a professional version.

He said: 'I paid them for what I thought was the whole thing. But what I didn't understand was that it didn't include the copyright.

'They told us how much they would charge to create the sign (£3,000), and so I went back to the council and we decided we would have to save up.'

After the council received money through housing developer contributions, Mr Johnson said another councillor took the design to a different sign-maker.

Simon Gordon, who put the sign together, said he did it in his free time and only charged the council for the cost of materials.

Mr Johnson said the council was attempting to try to come to an agreement over the issue.

This newspaper has contacted Harry Stebbings for comment.

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