Amy Kirby of the New Britain Historical Society sent a request from Hurwit & Associates of Newton, Mass. to the City and Bill DeMaio, parks and recreation director, asking that the City cease and desist from advertising, promoting and using “Timeless Tales” without legal license from Kirby to do so.
City Corporation Counsel did not return phone calls at press time and DeMaio did not return an email from the City Journal.
According to the letter, Kirby wants five percent of the income, for the support of the Society, from the $12 per person fee the Department charges for the Tour; the authority to reject any proposed changes to the scripts previously written by Kirby; as well as the creation of any new scripts.
The document claims that, “for five years, from 2009 to 2013, Ms. Kirby researched, wrote and developed the Tour Program. Using her own assets and resources, she traveled the State of Connecticut to meet and speak with family members of the deceased individuals buried at the Cemetery, created biographies based on these interviews, and authored the original scripts for the Tour Program. The Tour Program is an original work of authorship created by Ms. Kirby on her own, and all of the rights in its name and content are solely and exclusively owned by Ms. Kirby. This includes the scripts, historical research, production and scene details, and the concepts of the tour and historical reenactment modeled in these materials. It is my understanding that her ownership is registered with the United States Copyright office.”
The letter goes on to say that in May of 2009, Kirby approached the Department, as the overseer of the Fairview Cemetery, and asked if the Department would help facilitate a production of the program at the Cemetery. The Department agreed, and together with Kirby –who obtained donations to fund the production, undertook publicity and public relations for the production, oversaw auditions, sewed costumes, and attended dress rehearsals and presented the Tour Program to the public. No contracts were signed, but Kirby, through her close involvement with the production, granted the Department permission to use the Tour Program royalty free while she was involved. The program was duly attributed to her in that first year on the event.
Kirby now says according to the document, that she is no longer able to participate in the program because of her objections to historical inaccuracies.
The City has until Oct. 11 to sign a consent agreement.