Sad news for authors, after thirty years the Public Lending Rights body (PLR) has got the chop

Yes, the Public Lending Rights (PLR) body, which has been administering the library-loan royalties scheme for authors effectively and efficiently for thirty years is as one of the organisations to go in the government's culling of quangos. The government says that the PLR functions will be transferred to another body, as yet unnamed, possibly as yet undecided, no one has been told least of all The Society of Authors who has described the announcement as "both alarming and extraordinarily vague". Well that's very reassuring.

The Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, has said that authors' library-loan royalties will continue, which is something of a relief, but before any authors reading this who receive PLR get too excited, Vaizey  also said: 'Spending Review decisions will determine the size of the author fund and an announcement outlining funding over the next four years will be made later this month.' You can bet your life it isn't going to increase.

In a letter to the Society of Authors yesterday,  Mr Vaizey sought to reassure worried authors, 'As a condition of the transfer we will require the [new] body to commit to ringfence the fund for making payments to authors.' What new body? Another quango?

PLR registrar Dr Jim Knight said there would be 'no change' in the author payment system this year. 'We are going to operate the system to the end of March 2011. Over 2011-12 we will sort the details of transferring our functions to a new body,' he said, adding that 'a lot of detail' was still to be established about the transfer.

Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: 'The whole thing is totally unclear.' 

It' a very worrying time for many authors and my thoughts also go to those losing their jobs within the PLR and ALCS (Authors Licensing and Copyright Society). I hope they will be able to find positions in the remaining quangos as they expand to take on extra work otherwise the unemployment bill is certainly going to rise and that's not going to help anybody!


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