Sprowston Town Council faces pay-out over alleged breach of copyright

Sprowston Diamond Centre, where the town council office is located. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Sprowston Diamond Centre, where the town council office is located. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A town council has been warned it may have to pay damages for alleged copyright infringement over plans for a cemetery extension.

Cemetery Development Services claims it did not give consent for its layout drawings to be used for a burial ground extension in Sprowston.

The Bedfordshire-based company had initially been paid by Sprowston Town Council to create the plans, but was never asked permission for them to be used.

Speaking at a council meeting, town clerk June Hunt told members that the architectural firm was now requesting damages.

She said: 'I perhaps naively thought that if someone was receiving a fee that we would own the file and those plans.

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'We have not got a case to defend at all. What we have got is that we have to come to an agreement and possibly pay him.

'He is requesting a meeting with the chairman [of the council] and myself, but I don't feel we should be in that position because it is taxpayers money we are spending.'

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Instead councillors were told that a better option would be to speak to a solicitor, which could cost around £500.

Members agreed at the meeting earlier this month to seek legal advice.

The company was tasked with drawing up layout designs for the cemetery extension in Church Lane in June 2008.

But managing director Justin Smith claimed his company was not credited after the drawings were then taken on by another developer, which had been chosen by the council.

He said: 'We did the original drawings and suddenly the cemetery was built and a third party had its name on the drawings done by us. We wanted to find out how this happened.

'We wanted to speak to the council, but they have gone straight to the solicitors and I don't know why.

'One day of a solicitor is probably going to cost more than any compensation claim.'

The town council refused to comment on the possible cost of the claim.

Do you live in Sprowston and have a story? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.

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