Bill Bryson cover infringes copyright over 'Jolly Fisherman'

Bill Bryson cover infringes copyright over 'Jolly Fisherman'

Transworld is retrospectively seeking permission to publish Skegness' town mascot on the cover of Bill Bryson's bestselling title, The Road to Little Dribbling.

The publisher has received complaints from the town council for infringing copyright of the image of the 'Jolly Fisherman', used on the front of Bryson's Christmas bestseller, which is owned by Skegness Town Council.

Transworld has now been in contact with Skegness Town Hall "to confirm permission".

The publisher told the Lincolnshire Echo it had not been aware the mascot was copyrighted "given how extensively the image has been reproduced in the past" and the council has since accepted the publisher made "a genuine mistake".

Town clerk Steve Larner said: "Because Jolly is so prevalent (the publisher) hadn't realised the image was under copyright". Transworld has offered to credit the image in future reprints, which Larner told the BBC he was "happy" with. 

A spokesperson for Transworld said: "The use of the Jolly Fisherman as part of the cover illustration of Bill Bryson's book was inspired as a tribute to the iconic nature of the image, which Bill writes about with much affection in his chapter about Skegness. Given how extensively the image has been reproduced in the past, it was presumed that the image was in the public domain, but now it has been established that the image is in copyright until 2018,  we are in contact with Skegness Town Hall to confirm permission."

Bryson gave a mixed review of Lincolnshire,  "the ninth most visited place in Britain" in The Road to Little Dribbling. He wrote, while detailing a drive through the area "half mad with boredom", that "I figured the worst possible outcome was death, which didn't seem so bad compared with continuing on to Skegness."

Bryson described the Skegness' Jolly Fisherman in The Road to Little Dribbling however as "a splendid illustration". He said: "The man is dressed for foul weather and is quite alone, yet that one image and four simple words have made Skegness famous — indeed, have persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to go there. Hassall was paid 12 guineas for the work. The original hangs in Skegness Town Hall. I would love to have seen it, but the building was closed as it was the weekend."

Not the first time mascot Jolly has been at the centre of controversy, Peta called for the image to be changed to a fish in July 2015 on the basis it "evokes images of cruelty to animals".