Changes in U.K. Copyright Leave Authors Out


L. McMaken
Cincinnati, OH


Nearly 19,000 authors in the U.K. are protesting a government proposal that would eliminate paid royalty fees to authors. The Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society is trying to “lessen the burden of annual fees paid by schools for using copyrighted materials.”  This is an effort to reduced educational costs.

For authors who provide content, passage of this proposal could mean a significant decrease in annual earnings. From an article in U.K.’s Guardian News: “Schools currently pay an annual license fee for permission to copy and reuse hundreds of thousands of published works. A government consultation on changing the UK’s copyright system proposes amending this arrangement “so that copyright does not unduly restrict education and teaching” [PDF], but this would mean that the authors whose work is photocopied and reused in schools would see their income “seriously reduce[d] or even eradicate[d]”, according to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, which currently collects the fees. Last year 18,500 authors were paid for educational use of their work, with many professional education writers earning more than £10,000 in income.”

Many authors are saying they could not continue writing for the educational system if this proposal passes. Children’s laureate Anne Fine said:  “If this source of income is removed, I would be in a position where I would have to concentrate on areas of writing in which I felt I would get a fairer return for the hours worked. It will be a particular and ongoing personal and educational loss if writers whose work inspires children feel compelled to absent themselves from the field in order to make a living elsewhere.”

Comments are being accepted on this proposal until March 1.

David Burgess
Intellectual Property Office
21 Bloomsbury Street
London England
United Kingdom