LONDON, September 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 4,000 authors have now signed a statement urging the Government to maintain the current level of funding for Public Lending Right (PLR) in the forthcoming Spending Review. The petition, instigated by the Society of Authors and supported by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society and the Royal Society of Literature, is being drawn to the attention of Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, today.
The Public Lending Right scheme provides authors with a modest payment - currently 6p - each time one of their books is borrowed from a public library. PLR is designed to balance the social need for free public access to books against an author's right to be remunerated for the use of their work. Individual PLR payments are capped in order to benefit those most in need; many elderly writers whose books are no longer in print rely on their annual PLR payments, which they see as a form of pension. Although PLR is a legal right rather than a grant or subsidy, its funding has already been subject to significant cuts in the last three years amounting to over 10% in real terms.
Crime writer and President of the Society of Authors, PD James, has written to Jeremy Hunt drawing attention to the petition, which has been signed by such well-known authors as Alan Ayckbourn, Iain Banks, Raymond Briggs, AS Byatt, Wendy Cope, Margaret Drabble, Helen Dunmore, Stella Duffy, Antonia Fraser, Joanne Harris, Tom Holland, Doris Lessing, Ruth Padel, Phillip Pullman, Ali Smith, Joanna Trollope, Minette Walters, Sarah Waters and Jacqueline Wilson amongst others. The text of Baroness James's letter is attached.
Less familiar names feature among the high earners from PLR, and receive valuable portions of their income from the scheme.
Mark Le Fanu, General Secretary of the Society of Authors, said Authors are proud of Britain's Public Lending Right scheme, which is internationally admired and very tightly run. It provides them with modest payments when their books are borrowed. The funding has already been cut back. Authors are anxious that it should not be reduced still further.
The petition, with the full list of signatories, can be viewed at http://www.alcs.co.uk/petition.
This petition is also supported by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the British Copyright Council (BCC).
Text of Baroness James' letter to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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.
Text of Petition
Statement on PLR by Authors
The Public Lending Right scheme, under which authors receive 6p when a book is borrowed from a public library, is funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Over the last three years, while public spending has been buoyant, PLR's allocation has fallen by 3%: over 10% in real terms.
While accepting that DCMS has been instructed to reduce its budget, we ask the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, to recognise that the GBP7.5m spent on PLR gives effect to a legal right and is not a subsidy. It provides working writers with a modest income when their books are read by library users free of charge. PLR is particularly important to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being used.
Press coverage tends to focus on a few successful authors, yet most struggle to make ends meet. PLR provides a significant and much-valued part of authors' incomes. The GBP6,600 upper limit ensures that the fund helps those most in need.
The admirably efficient PLR Office has already cut its running costs very substantially. Any reduction in PLR will have an immediate and detrimental effect on the 'front line' payments to authors.
Notes for editors
Society of Authors
The Society of Authors has been serving the interests of professional writers for more than a century. Today it has more than 8,800 members (from novelists to doctors, textbook writers to ghost writers, broadcasters to academics, illustrators to translators) writing in all areas of the profession. Services include the confidential, individual vetting of contracts, and help with professional disputes. In addition, the Society holds meetings and seminars, publishes a quarterly journal, The Author, and maintains a database of members' specializations. It administers a wide range of prizes, as well as the Authors' Foundation, which is one of the very few bodies making grants to help with work in progress for established writers.
ALCS collects fees on behalf of the whole spectrum of UK writers: novelists, film TV script writers, literary prize winners, poets and playwrights, freelance journalists, translators and adaptors. All writers are eligible to join ALCS: further details on membership can be found at http://www.alcs.co.uk
Set up in 1977 in the wake of the original campaign for Public Lending Right (led by ALCS Honorary President - Maureen Duffy, Brigid Brophy and Lord Ted Willis among others) the Society collects fees that are difficult, time-consuming or legally impossible for writers and their representatives to claim on an individual basis: money that is nonetheless due to them. Fees collected are distributed to writers twice a year in March and September. Since its inception, ALCS has distributed over GBP235 million to the nation's writers.
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature was founded by King George IV in 1820, to 'reward literary merit and excite literary talent'.
President of the RSL is the travel writer Colin Thubron, and the Chair is biographer Anne Chisholm. Vice Presidents of the RSL include Maggie Gee, Victoria Glendinning, Phillip Pullman and Hilary Mantel. A Council of Fellows meet monthly to oversee the RSL programme of lectures, debates and poetry readings, and to address issues of importance to the RSL and writers in general.
The Society has some 500 Fellows, they include novelists, short-story writers, poets, playwrights, biographers, historians, literary critics and scriptwriters.
SOURCE: Authors' Licensing SOURCE: Collecting Society (ALCS)
CONTACT: For further information please contact: Mark Le Fanu, Society ofAuthors: +44(0)20-7373-6642 or Alison Baxter, ALCS: +44(0)20-7264-5700.Contact information: The Society of Authors, 84 Drayton Gardens, London,SW10 9SB. Tel: +44(0)20-7373-6642; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Contact information: ALCS, The Writers House, 13 Haydon Street, LondonEC3N 1DB . Tel: +44(0)20-7264-5700; email: email@example.com. Contactinformation: The Royal Society of Literature, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R1LA. Tel: +44(0)20-7845-4676; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.