Royalties on hold in fee dispute

March 9, 2001

Authors will receive no copyright royalties from photocopying of their work by the higher education sector until a dispute between the Copyright Licensing Agency and Universities UK is settled, writes Caroline Davis.

Dafydd Wyn Phillips, chief executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society has written to authors warning them to expect fewer royalties from the second half of 2000. The letter says: "The CLA has been advisedI that it would not be prudent to distribute the funds from the higher education sector until the case is resolved."

Mr Wyn Phillips said the money would be placed in an interest-bearing account and would be given out only when the result of the tribunal was known. The tribunal has the power to backdate any variation in fees to July 2000, when UUK referred the case.

Heather Rosenblatt, legal adviser for the ALCS, said: "We are not in the business of penalising our writers, we are in the business of protecting their interests."

The letter concludes by saying 75 per cent of authors earn less than the national average wage and compares this with the 6.5 per cent average pay rise enjoyed by vice-chancellors in 1999-2000.

Alan Story, spokesman for the Copyright in Higher Education Workgroup, described the letter as "mischief making", saying it pitted writers against universities.

The case will be heard in September, but a final decision could run into early 2002.

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