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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Baroness P D James joins the PLR fight.

A letter has today been sent to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture from the President of the Society of Authors, PD James, alerting him to the petition and asking him to recognise both the importance of PLR to writers and that it has already been heavily cut.

The letter is reproduced below and any writers who have not yet signed the petition then please see the previous post for a link to the online petition

Secretary of State
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
8th September 2010
Dear Secretary of State
Public Lending Right
As you are probably aware, there is great anxiety among writers about PLR funding, which
they feel should be maintained at its present level (or thereabouts) in the Spending Review.
We think it important to recognise that PLR has been operating with reduced budgets over
the past three years, while public expenditure generally has been rising.
PLR is a statutory right, very efficiently and economically managed by a tiny staff.
Authors greatly value the modest income they receive when their books are read by library
users free of charge. Many writers whose books are no longer in print rely on their annual
PLR payments which they see as a form of pension.
In order to test our impression that writers are hugely supportive of Britain’s exemplary PLR
system, The Society of Authors, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and the
Royal Society of Literature asked members to consider adding their names to a short
statement, which is attached to this letter. In a matter of days over 4,000 did so, including, as
you will see, many of this country’s most eminent writers.
The Spending Review is clearly going to present the Department with some difficult choices.
We ask you to take into account that PLR is a legal right rather than a grant or subsidy, that it
has already been reduced significantly and that it is a vital ‘front line’ service on which
authors depend.
Yours sincerely
Baroness James of Holland Park OBE
President, Society of Authors

1 comment:

Chap O'Keefe said...

The baroness is right: PLR is not a grant or subsidy. Nor a social welfare benefit. It's compensation for the royalties a writer loses when one copy of his book is read a hundred times or more "for free".

Unfortunately, most countries that have PLR schemes fail to recognize this. They pay out only to writers who live, and pay their taxes, within their own jurisdiction. If you fail to meet the requirement, you don't get paid.

The result is that the general public, encouraged by politicians, does regard PLR as some sort of welfare payment they don't get themselves.

I've lobbied MPs and even two Prime Ministers about this and I've got nowhere. Not enough votes in it for them, I guess.

Writers, too, in all countries including my own, view setting up reciprocal arrangements with suspicion. They fear their income will be eroded somehow by "non-native" competition.

Once, a British Black Horse Western writer I won't name and shame said, on learning that US, Australian and NZ writers didn't earn 6p (or whatever) every time one of their books was borrowed from the UK libraries, where most BHWs are held, said: "Oh, good, more money for me!"

Writer X was wrong, of course. The money just doesn't get paid on the titles by authors who don't "qualify". Meanwhile, their books are borrowed and read just the same, and maybe instead of Writer X's.