Not a tax but pay for work done

10th March 2000 at 00:00
IN RESPONSE to your article 'Literacy hour is taxed' (TES, February 24), authors and publishers have unsurprisingly been among the most supportive of the Government's drive to increase literacy.

However, in encouraging teachers to use varied teaching techniques the Government proposed photocopying not legally covered by the existing licence held by schools from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA).

This was an oversight subsequently acknowledged by both the Department for Education and Employment and the National Literacy Centre.

As a result, the Copyright Licensing Agency not only consulted with both these organisations, but also with the owners of the material that is copied.

The end result - the option for schools to be able to take out an extension to their licence to cover the literacy hour - was wholeheartedly endorsed by both the National Literacy Centreand the DFEE

The new arrangements for the initiative do not constitute a "tax" on literacy - taxes are centrally imposed by government whereas the fees collected by CLA are distributed to authors and publishers whose works have been copied. The fact remains that all schools in England and Wales must ensure that they are copyright compliant.

The benefit of taking out the centrally-negotiated licence is that schools are freed from an administrative nightmare and can make photocopies from thousands of titles at a very low cost without fear of infringement.

The argument from some quarters that photocopying for the literacy hour should be free of charge is simply unreasonable when authors and publishers depend on such sales of their work for their livelihood .

Jonathan Leigh-Hunt

Copyright Licensing Agency

90 Tottenham Court Road

London W1

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