I’m aware some writer friends aren’t quite clued-in on what’s going on with the proposals around PLR, and so aren’t entirely sure what to say as comments on the Consultation Documents. It’s pretty simple, in a bonfire of the quangos type thing, the coalition would like to save some money by having the organisation that runs PLR (9 people and a CEO) subsumed into a larger org, like the British Library or the Arts Council.
There is also, of course, an underlying question – as there always is about anything being paid out as a right rather than a subsidy – as to the need for PLR at all. It’s not being taken away at the moment, but there are some of us who feel being taken over by an umbrella org isn’t the best way to keep the need for PLR in the public eye.
So, here’s the page to download and read the docs from the DCMS (they’re very short and simple), and here’s what I’ve sent as my comments – the comments email and postal address is also on the link above.
1. PLR payments are a vital form of income for very many writers in the UK, where the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s figures have suggested that the average writer in the UK earns around £9000 pa. Safeguarding the RIGHT (not subsidy) that is PLR, safeguards some of those writers who might otherwise have to give up their writing work. It is vital that, as a nation renowned for our literary prowess, and the depth and breadth of our literature, we do not make it even harder for new writers (of any age) to get started, and for mid-list writers to continue. Most writers are not paid the much-vaunted advances the press like to write about, and many of us rely on PLR monies to supplement our income, and it is also hugely important to keep the range of writers we currently enjoy. Making it harder for people to afford to write, simply makes it harder for anyone who isn’t independently wealthy to write. The last thing we want is to return to a time of ‘gentlemen writers’.
2. PLR has actually gone down in real terms for several years, as the rate has not kept pace with inflation.
3. it is vital to keep our libraries open and free – in doing so we need to acknowledge the copyright issue, and that for libraries to be free, there must still be some recompense, however small, for the writer. PLR does this by offering a very small sum, per loan, which safeguards both the author’s copyright and the right of the public to use the library for free.
4. PLR is currently run well, efficiently, and successfully by a small team of hard-working people who know their job and the writers of Great Britain. If the organisation of PLR is to be subsumed into a larger body (like the British Library for eg) there is no certainty that it would be run as well, or as efficiently. It would also, more than likely, mean moving jobs from Stockton-on-Tees to London, hardly appropriate in the current financial climate.
5. If any organisation must take over something that is already working well, already running well, already coping well with the restrictions and problems of a recession, perhaps the ALCS – which does a very similar job, but for other forms of copyright (documents, radio broadcasts etc), would be better placed to incorporate the PLR organisation.
I suggest you don’t copy and paste these comments wholesale, we are writers after all! – but if you find this prompts you to make an effort with your own comments and to take the time to tell the Govt how useful and important PLR is, then get to it!
Of course, you might simply want to say – it works well, it doesn’t waste money, it does a good thing, why on earth waste time AND MONEY consulting on getting rid of it?