Monday, September 14, 2009

Authors' Registry: Clearinghouse for small payments

How should small fees for copying copyrighted material be collected and distributed? About once a year, I get a communication from The Authors Registry , which works to find authors on whose behalf such fees--presumably collected by the penny in copyshops and libraries--have been collected.

"The Authors Registry is a not-for-profit clearinghouse for payments to authors, receiving royalties from organizations and distributing them to U.S. authors. It was founded in 1995 by a consortium of U.S. authors' organizations: The Authors Guild, The American Society of Journalists & Authors, the Dramatists Guild, and the Association of Authors' Representatives. To date, the Authors Registry has distributed over $8,000,000 to authors in the United States."

They seem to be closely affiliated with the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (UK).

"The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) represents the interests of all UK writers and aims to ensure writers are fairly compensated for any works that are copied, broadcast or recorded. Writers’ primary rights are protected by contract, but it is the life of the work over the following decades that needs to be monitored and fairly rewarded. It is with secondary rights that copyright has an important role to play in protecting writers and creators from unpaid use and moral abuse of their work. Secondary use ranges from photocopying and repeat broadcast transmission in the UK and overseas to reproduction in journals and repeat use via the internet and digital reproduction."

"Photocopying of books and serials currently accounts for approximately 70% of income. The ALCS together with the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) has appointed the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to act as its agent to license the photocopying right on its behalf and on behalf of its members on a non-exclusive basis. A small number of CLA licences now include the authority for limited scanning. Public Lending Right ALCS administers German, Austrian, Dutch and French Public Lending Right (PLR) for UK authors, and is in the process of entering into agreements with other European countries where PLR is being incorporated in to national legislation. UK PLR is administered by Public Lending Right based in Stockton-upon-Tees and funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). "

The collections are quite small; e.g. my recent statement, which seems to originate in the ALCS looks like this:

PHOTOCOPYING - OVERSEAS Miscellaneous CLA Monies - Inside EU 1.02
NON TITLE SPECIFIC Miscellaneous CLA Monies - UK 40.03
PHOTOCOPYING - OVERSEAS Miscellaneous CLA Monies - Outside EU 15.52
SUBVENTION ON ACCOUNT Miscellaneous CLA Photocopying Fees 7.97
PLS Balancing Payment General CLA Photocopying Fees 2007 - 2008 34.56

Update: for those of you who don't normally click to see comments, the comment below by Jon Baron, the eminent Penn psychologist, is well worth reading...


Jon Baron said...

As an author and reader of academic works, I am totally opposed to this outfit. They say they are acting for my interests, but they are actually acting against them. I do not write my academic works for money. I do not want the trivial royalties they try to collect. The effect of their actions is to reduce readership. The fact that my works are proprietary is a hangover from the time when we NEEDED commercial publishers to intervene between author and reader. This market is suffering from serious inertia. It is in part a public-goods problem because scholars need to join together to create alternatives with sufficient prestige, which seems to be what the commercial publishers try to monopolize.

I'm not talking about blockbuster textbooks. That's a different deal (and has different problems). I'm talking about serious academic works with few readers, which is most of what this thing is about. (Not to mention the fact that they oppose Google's efforts to increase the availability of these works.)

aram harrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aram harrow said...

Physics (and more and more related fields) has Hopefully all of academia will eventually have something similar.