The Bedford Genealogical Society Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the Bedford Museum accusing the museum of "deceptive" acts. In its written response, the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library, as the museum is officially known, calls the society's leaders a "disgruntled" group out to "hijack" the organization. At issue: how much independence from the museum the society actually has. The society considers itself autonomous, yet museum officials contend that the society was created as a research arm of the museum.
At stake: ownership of a database of roughly 1,500 county cemeteries, along with more than 37,000 names carved into tombstones. The database is a gold mine for researchers, who can use birth and death dates to find lost branches of family trees and peer into forgotten corners of local history.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court by the society accuse the museum of wrongly seizing and claiming as its own the cemetery records that society volunteers spent years collecting. The lawsuit claims the museum has "unjustly enriched" itself by selling the data. The society is asking a federal judge to stop the museum from selling the data, to return the records to the society and to pay the society for "lost sales and lost profits."
In its written response to the suit, the museum counters that the society members who declared their autonomy from the museum in February aren't the true representatives of the society, and their organization "is instead a corporate vehicle formed by several disgruntled, rogue (and now former) members of the Society in an attempt to hijack and subvert the Society and to serve their own purposes."
I don't know the facts of this lawsuit so I won't offer any comment, other than to say that this is sad... very sad.
You can read much more in an article by Rex Bowman in the Roanoke Times at http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/231302.