The novelist Philip Pullman is among thousands of writers condemning government proposals to restrict the fees they receive from their books used by schools, colleges or universities.
The author, pictured, of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials said that the originators of educational material should be paid fairly: "Anything else is simply theft by another name."
Writers including Julia Donaldson and Anne Fine – the current and former Children's Laureate respectively – warn that proposed amendments to the framework for licensing copyright across the education sector will devastate their income.
Although many of the writers are not well-known names, their textbooks are required reading for students, and they rely on the royalties for as much as half their earnings. Under the present system, educational establishments are permitted to copy hundreds of thousands of published texts for annual fees – equating to about £2.75 per student – through the licensing schemes operated by the Copyright Licensing and Educational Recording Agencies. The Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) distributes the royalties. Last year, around 18,500 writers shared more than £7m of such income.
For many writers, these fees exceed direct sales of their books because schools, colleges and teachers buy one copy of a book and photocopy text.
Authors are outraged that the Government wants to increase the amount of their work that schools can copy without paying for the time spent on researching and writing.
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