News

SoA calls for 'urgent meeting' after PLR body is culled

The body which administers the Public Lending Right payment to authors is being abolished, the Government has announced. But it has yet to say who will take over the function of PLR, with the Society of Authors describing the announcement as "both alarming and extraordinarily vague".

There is also a possibility that the rate itself will be reduced as part of the Government's spending review, to be unveiled by the Chancellor George Osbourne on 20th October.

PLR has fallen victim to the quango cull that is underway across Whitehall, that has already seen the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Advisory Council on Libraries lined up for the axe. The MLA will start winding down next April; the ACL could go as early as this autumn.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey sent a letter to the Society of Authors this morning in an attempt to "reassure [authors] on a number of issues". Vaizey said the government intended to achieve the transfer of functions during 2011-12. But he added that funds would be ring-fenced, and that the new administrative body would have independence from the Government.

The SoA responded: "The announcement is both alarming and extraordinarily vague. We are seeking an urgent meeting with officials in the department. It is hard to know what impact, if any, the change will have on the day to day management of PLR, so competently run by the Registrar, Jim Parker, and his staff."

It said it had also received a letter from Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, in response to the Society's campaign about the funding of PLR—over 4,000 authors have now signed a statement urging the Government to maintain the current level of funding for PLR in the forthcoming Spending Review. In the letter Hunt made no promises over PLR, but wrote: "Wherever possible we will find savings through administrative efficiencies, which is the best way to minimise the direct impact upon practitioners such as writers who deliver culture on the frontline." Osbourne will outline the broad detail of the cuts next week.

The DCMS also announced that the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel has been abolished. A DCMS spokeswomen confirmed that all other aspects of the legal deposit system are unchanged, and that publishers still have to deposit new books with the six legal deposit libraries.

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

The PLR agency is renownedly efficient, having recently both cut its staff and improved efficiency. (Its present staff is minimal.) Does anyone other than a zealot believe a new body will do better?

Nottinghamshire County Council (Conservative) has just cut its book budget by 75%, as well as announcing reduced opening hours to libraries, and massive cuts in staffing, so authors can look forward to much reduced PLR from this part of the world. And mobiles will only call once a month. The local cabinet member says that libraries are at the heart of the community. If so, this is a heart attack.

Libraries are increasingly going to eBook 'lending', and while that was to become a source of PLR revenue in the UK it may not now. In other Commonwealth countries - such as Canada, for example - eBook lending by libraries is not considered for PLR reimbursement to writers, and will not be. I would bet serious money that eBook lending by libraries will become a circumvention of PLR in the UK as well, and will ultimately lead to a massive infringement of the laws of copyright.

Surely the issue here is not how efficient PLR is but the fact that the taxpayer has to fund it. If it is as efficient as Russell James says it is, then the same organisation can collect author's dues for them without dipping into my pocket. Of course definitions of efficiency vary - they may be brilliant at doing their job without reflecting on whether that job actually needs doing or if it efficient to do that job at all. Many (most?) authors only receive a pittance in their PLR payments. Should this even continue? Should there be a payment threshold?

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.

The PLR agency is renownedly efficient, having recently both cut its staff and improved efficiency. (Its present staff is minimal.) Does anyone other than a zealot believe a new body will do better?

Nottinghamshire County Council (Conservative) has just cut its book budget by 75%, as well as announcing reduced opening hours to libraries, and massive cuts in staffing, so authors can look forward to much reduced PLR from this part of the world. And mobiles will only call once a month. The local cabinet member says that libraries are at the heart of the community. If so, this is a heart attack.

Libraries are increasingly going to eBook 'lending', and while that was to become a source of PLR revenue in the UK it may not now. In other Commonwealth countries - such as Canada, for example - eBook lending by libraries is not considered for PLR reimbursement to writers, and will not be. I would bet serious money that eBook lending by libraries will become a circumvention of PLR in the UK as well, and will ultimately lead to a massive infringement of the laws of copyright.

Surely the issue here is not how efficient PLR is but the fact that the taxpayer has to fund it. If it is as efficient as Russell James says it is, then the same organisation can collect author's dues for them without dipping into my pocket. Of course definitions of efficiency vary - they may be brilliant at doing their job without reflecting on whether that job actually needs doing or if it efficient to do that job at all. Many (most?) authors only receive a pittance in their PLR payments. Should this even continue? Should there be a payment threshold?

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.

PLR is a legal right that authors fought for: basically, to be paid for the multiple use of their books in libraries. I know a lot of authors as well as me who get a significant amount of money from PLR each year: it usually pays the first instalment of my tax bill, and the money reflects a genuine readership. I don't understand the point of the anonymous commentator before me - the tax-payer will still be paying the government department that takes over this function, and they are likely to be much less competent at doing it. Jim Parker at PLR runs a very tight ship, has cut his organisation to the bone and is supremely efficient at what he does.It's time for all authors and people in the book trade to support the PLR organisation, and our right to be paid for our work, now.