British Library to pay up - eventually

THE SAGA of the British Library Directs document supply service could be nearing an end.

The Freelance reported previously (www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0611bl.html) that the British Library Direct service at http:direct.bl.uk is offering articles from journals for sale online. There is a service charge of £7.45 plus VAT and a copyright fee of £5.

The question was: who receives the copyright fees?

After a couple of meetings with the BLD staff and a further meeting with the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the NUJ Freelance Office has come up with the answer.

BLD remits the copyright fees to ALCS, which includes the money in its pot for distribution to authors. The reason for this is that BLD say they are unable to identify the authors individually. The necessary software for this will not be in place for several years.

Owen Atkinson, CEO of ALCS said: Where an author is identified, we will pay 100 per cent of the fee to that author. This has happened on a few occasions.

After pressure from the NUJ, ALCS and BLD met to discuss precisely this point, and arrived at a compromise.

ALCS believe that by working with the existing BLD database and their own, it should be possible to identify authors whose work has been copied.

This will now be tried on a pilot basis, as ALCS have to ascertain how much work is required at their end.

It is very much a work in progress.

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